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4 Life Lessons You’ll Learn When You Follow Your Heart

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4 Life Lessons You’ll Learn When You Follow Your Heart

Sometimes, the things you think are just right for you are actually the complete opposite. Sometimes, it’s these things that pull you right under. And personally, I’ve hit my head on that rock several times now.

I’ve been extremely convinced about romantic partners that were really bad for me and got stuck in jobs that were doing me no good. And last year, even though it seemed like I was doing everything right, it became again very clear to me that it wasn’t…

“Follow your heart but take your brain with you” – Alfred Adler

There were some lessons I picked up from this experience and it’s the big 4 below that I wanted to share with you:

 

1. Feelings trump thoughts when it comes to choosing what you do every single day

Last year, I spent 7 full months building my online business coaching blog for growing startups. Which, after years of business consulting and being an entrepreneur with my brother, meant that I was finally doing something that was completely for me.

As this was the perfect combination of my skills and experience and my innate drive to help people’s dreams come true, I thought this was perfect! But, that’s the thing…they were thoughts, and it made sense, and it was smart…but it wasn’t what I wanted to do in my heart of hearts.

I’d denied it every time anybody asked me about it but in reality I had set up this particular business because I thought this was a relatively easy moneymaker…so that I would have an income when I would start my big passion project. But, as no business is when it’s just starting, it wasn’t a quick moneymaker and it wasn’t giving me any joy, which started to impact my health.

Remember I was only 7 months in! That’s nothing in entrepreneur years! As sound as the idea and business model was, it didn’t feel right to me at all!

 

2. Your body ALWAYS tells you the truth

I was entrepreneuring my booty off and it all went pretty decent apart from the fact that my costs still outweighed my income and the dark shadow of mortgage and bank began to slowly but surely fall over me. Being an experienced entrepreneur, I had of course already accounted for this but still…I started to cramp up.

Literally! My neck, my shoulders, my back, everything was stuck. My head felt like I was wearing a bowling ball for a hat and no matter what I did (yoga, meditate, special pillows, no typing, no sugars, lots of red wine, etc.), nothing worked…for months on end.

Something really wasn’t right here…And it didn’t feel like it was just the hard work getting me down. I’d been there before many times and knew how to deal with that. There was obviously also something else at play but through the fog of the headaches, working really hard, wanting to succeed and a draining savings account I just couldn’t see it.

Heart

3. Taking a step back can be the best gift you can give yourself

I got lucky and found a freelance job that gave me the opportunity to book a last-minute flight to Asia for a month and make some decent money that would get me going again for a while. It gave me a break from the incessant stress around money and from stress around having to make this business successful a.s.a.p.

So in this temporary stress free zone, I tinkered around with perhaps tweaking my business model a bit, or go after a specific niche or start cooperating with other instances more, but the more I thought (there’s that word again) about it, the less I was really feeling it.

What I was feeling…was a larger than life desire to work on my big passion project. To go around the world, create beautiful things and words and connections and work one on one with people that want to live the most fulfilling life they can.

And it was through the traveling, the freelance project and the freedom it brought that I was able to actually see and feel all this. Taking a step back can be absolutely priceless, even when it feels like you’re cheating on your business or yourself!

“To be successful you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart” – Sr. Thomas Watson

4. Never, ever, make concessions where your passion is concerned (a.k.a. there’s always a way)

But my big passion project didn’t have a very clear business model (yet)…And it would cost me a lot of time and effort to get it off the ground. But the more I thought about it, the stronger I felt I just had to do it. Even though it meant letting go of everything I’d been building so far.

That pretty much meant I could throw my really strong resume in the bin. Over the years I’ve learned to trust myself, trust the process and trust that the money will come, one way or another. So with the right precautions (some money in the bank, renting out my house, freelance writing and consulting jobs as back-up), I felt confident enough to make the leap and follow my heart!

For a long time, success has always looked like money, material possessions and being recognized as such to me, but over the years I learned that true success is much more than that. Success is a state of mind, of soul and of being.

Ultimately, it is the freedom to live the life you love. And be the person you love being. It’s still early days for my new business, I’m not really making any money (yet) and it could very well be that it doesn’t take off at all business wise, but yet, I’ve never felt more successful in my life.

 

Thank you for reading my article! I hope it helps you to make the decision to follow your heart!

Linda Coussement is a life coach, writer and documentary maker. She’s slowly travelling the world asking all sorts of people: “How is it to be you?” Get her 10-page workbook on how to turn your dreams into practical reality right here and/or connect with her on Facebook.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Maria Stenvinkel

    Jun 24, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post! I SO agree with everything you say and these are the types of things I can talk about 24/7 lol.

    Loved this: “Ultimately, it is the freedom to live the life you love.”

    Thanks,
    Maria

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 25, 2015 at 5:04 am

      I know! This is the stuff I live and breathe and write and can go on and on 🙂
      Thanks for your lovely comment!

  2. Linda Catherine Robinson

    Jun 24, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Dear Linda: Thanks for the reminder to never, ever, EVER give up on following your heart. 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 25, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Haha, you’re welcome! It’s easier said than done but never fails to be right!

  3. Mark Tong

    Jun 23, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Linda – I really identified with your post. I’ve had the same experience and reactions to doing the wrong thing even though it seemed like the right thing. Always go with your passions!

  4. Nicki Lee

    Jun 22, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Linda! I love that your trip to Asia was such a turning point for you. It reminded me of Julia Cameron using artist dates to “fill the well” and get some inspiration so we can get back to our purpose. 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 23, 2015 at 7:37 am

      You’re welcome Nicki! And yes…if you truly listen to your body and heart, you’ll find your way back to your purpose in life, no matter what it is! And it indeed might take some detours and extra time 🙂

  5. John

    Jun 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Re: “Your body always tells you the truth:” I’ve never thought of this Linda, but isn’t that the absolute truth! I’ll do a better job of detecting my body’s reactions to where I choose to focus my energies. The body tells us things! Thank you for this super-helpful insight!

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 23, 2015 at 7:40 am

      You’re very welcome John! It’s not easy because we human beings tend to be very stubborn and think we’re stronger than we are 🙂 I can recommend a 10 minute meditation every day to feel where you’re body and state of mind is at; really helped me become more aware of what’s going on! Good luck!

  6. John

    Jun 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I always found it funny when someone would ask, “what does your gut tell you?”. I would picture my stomach talking to me. But there really is something to it. Your subconscious is constantly working like a computer in the background, and it lets you know with a queasy feeling when you’re in a bad situation. I also like that Adler quote. Thanks Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 23, 2015 at 7:44 am

      You’re right, it’s a giant computer that keeps on spinning! And I’m sure there’s a cartoon in the ‘gut talking to you’ bit! 🙂

  7. Valerie Leroyer

    Jun 20, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Very nice article Linda! I liked when you said “Success is a state of mind, of soul and of being.” That is so true, once we realize it! I’m going through the same questions,and dilemma as I hesitate between a business blog (which is what I know) and my true passion, fiction writing. I wish you good luck and lots of travel in a near future 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 20, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Yes, the ‘once we realize it’ bit might take a while! Hang in there and keep meditating (cause I know you do 😉 ) on what you truly feel is right for you!

  8. eric

    Jun 20, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Keep it up Linda!

    This blog connected with me as I have made decisions that started to come form my heart and not the mind and hearts of others. Listening to how you feel and not to your thoughts are paramount! 🙂 Especially if you are a HEART oriented human 🙂 Which it sounds like you are.

    Strength through Struggle

    • Linda Coussement

      Jun 20, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Eric! And I indeed am…though it took me a while to get there 🙂
      Good for you to follow your heart no matter what!

  9. Ann

    Jun 20, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Love it. Keep us updated on your new adventure!

  10. Ashley

    Jun 20, 2015 at 10:33 am

    love the Adler quote! Good luck and great post!

  11. Linda Coussement

    Jun 20, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Thanks Helen, will do! 🙂

  12. Helen McCarthy

    Jun 20, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Great subheadings Linda . “Feelings trump thoughts when it comes to choosing what you do every single day” & “Your body always tells you the truth” – so true. All the best with your new (ad)venture.

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Life

Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start

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meditation for beginners
Image Credit: Pixabay

Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.

How meditation works

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.

There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.

A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).

With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.

In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.

They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.

“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama

What science says about meditation

People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.

Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.

Can anyone meditate?

Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.

Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.

Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?

A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.

Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!

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Life

What The Lion King Can Teach You About Self-Esteem

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The lion king
Image Credit: Disney

Did you know that having high self-esteem can make the difference between being truly successful or a total loser? If you’re suffering from low self-esteem, your success probabilities are highly impaired because your confidence level will be reflected in all the areas of your life without discrimination.

You’re Not Alone

Maybe you think that you’re born insecure and that there’s no cure for that. Perhaps you believe you can change, but you don’t know how to make that transformation happen. The good news is you can change. Your self-esteem level is something that can be hacked, just like any other psychological factor.

However, what if your disbelief in improving your self-esteem is the real cause to why you’re still stuck? Keep reading because in this article I’ll give you 3 simple tips with which you can raise your self-esteem today.

What’s Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem, as the American psychologist Nathaniel Branden said, is the psychological condition when we feel effective in front life’s challenges and when we feel worthy of success and happiness. As I said before, everybody can increase their self-esteem levels naturally. The bad news is that authentic self-esteem never comes for free, and we need to work hard to grow our self-esteem through our thoughts and actions.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

What ‘The Lion King’ Can Teach You About Self-Esteem

To help you better grasp this concept, I will refer to my favorite Disney classic, the Lion King. When Simba’s father (Mufasa) died after having been hit by the herd of wildebeests, he was advised by Scar (his uncle) to leave his father’s kingdom and never to come back since Scar made Simba believe that Mufasa’s death was his fault.

Simba left the kingdom with a heavy feeling of guilt, consequently losing his own identity and self-confidence. He had also lost his primary reference point in life, his father, who taught him everything about life on the savannah, and the natural order of the “Circle of Life” that had to be respected to make everything function harmoniously.

Simba was supposed to be the next king of the savannah, but he didn’t feel confident to come back and reign over the animal kingdom. He also didn’t feel worthy of the king role he was destined to have because his true identity had been taken away.

Only when he meets Rafiki (that holds the position of wise mentor), he goes through a forest (his subconscious mind) and arrives at a small pool (his subconscious self-image) where Mufasa appears again in the form of a reflection. Then, Simba gets into a trance-like state where he has the vision of his father taking the nebulous form of a cloud that tells him, “remember who you are.”

The trance state is so deep that Simba is shocked by his vision and realizes who he really is along with his role in the circle of life. He thus gets back his self-worth and self-confidence, along with the drive to come back to the animal kingdom to bring the order back again.

As you can see, this cartoon that is destined to children, holds so many truths that we adults can benefit from as well.

My Struggle With Low Self-Esteem

In my personal experience, I also had periods of time where I lost my identity and struggled with my own self-worth. An example was after I had been bullied during my teenage years,

I didn’t feel worthy anymore to succeed, and I sabotaged myself many times on various occasions, especially with women as I didn’t feel enough for their attention and love. Then, I realized that I had let those bullies take control of my self-worth that was indeed intact before being insulted. 

I had allowed the bullies to transfer their problems onto me, just like Scar influenced Simba because of how much he hated himself and his life. As soon as I got this awareness, I started to gain my power back because I knew that deep within me, I had so much potential to express. That was my story, but this post is for you, so it’s time to talk about how you can raise your self-esteem.

Here are the 3 steps you can apply from today to build your self esteem:

1. Remember Who You Are

Remember who you are. Remember your true identity that might have been stolen from you from somebody else as it happened to Simba in The Lion King or to me after having been bullied. 

To understand this, you can ask yourself the following questions: Who are you at your best moments? Who are you when nobody’s watching? Which kind of person are you deep within?

2. Acknowledge Your Strengths

Only by knowing what your strengths are, you can leverage them to reach the goals you really care about faster and more effectively. Everybody has some strengths; we just need to have enough self-awareness to understand what those strengths are and use them to our advantage.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

3. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

You also need to know what your weaknesses are because we all have vulnerabilities and unless we spot, acknowledge, and accept them, we can’t really unleash our full self-acceptance. 

That’s true because our weaknesses are what make us imperfect and thus humans. Moreover, the acceptance of your weaknesses is another way to raise your self-esteem and to get help from other people that can complement your shortcomings with their strengths.

To conclude, your self-esteem levels will highly determine how successful you’ll become in any area of your life. Everybody has to find his or her worth and confidence within, and unless you see it for yourself, nobody will ever be able to give it to you as that’s something that even the richest man in the world can’t buy with his billions.

Self-esteem must be cultivated consistently and, if you do this, then a tremendous amount of self-confidence and self-respect will be naturally brought to you.

How do you cultivate your own self-esteem so you remain strong and level-headed? Share your thoughts with us below!

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Life

How to Harness the Power of Your Personal Narrative

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Are you “living up” or “living down” to your personal narrative? When you set out to achieve an important goal, you’ll come face-to-face with many obstacles, such as starting a new business and not having your prospects reply to your prospecting emails. Perhaps you’ve had an interview for a new job and learned you didn’t make the final round of applicants. 

In those difficult moments, you have to have an internal conversation with yourself, known as self-talk. What do you say? How do you feel? You may find yourself succumbing to negativity or failing to believe in your own self-worth. If so, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’re all easily overwhelmed by our doubts and fears, because it’s what makes us human.

However, these feelings can not only shape a sense of identity, but also allow our doubt and fear to determine the outcome. When this happens, it’s vital to understand how to have the courage and conviction to move forward despite the obstacles. This includes moving forward in the midst of struggling, even when success seems lightyears away. This may seem daunting, but the answer is right in front of us. It lies in our personal narrative.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

What is a personal narrative?

A personal narrative is a life-script that is often followed without question or protest. The conversations you have internally, known as self-talk, make up the core component to our personal narrative. Your self talk represents a powerful belief system that’s baked into our day-to-day existence.

Each of us possess a personal narrative that encompasses a belief system that shapes us and what we see as possible in our lives. As a result, we either ​live up or ​live down to that personal narrative.

While a personal narrative is the starting place, it’s a powerful one. On one hand, when a negative narrative becomes suffocating, it can be hard to escape. This will lead you to foster the belief that you’re incapable of accomplishing something, ensuring that you’ll be less likely to continue to take the necessary steps in the direction of a dream

Your narrative may be so powerful that you may just assume the worst, ending any possibility for you to put in the necessary time, effort and perseverance required to achieve a different outcome.

“The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.” – Ralph Charell

Cultivating positive narratives

On the other hand, what if we possessed personal narratives that were more positive? This  is not just positive thinking, because it is the practice of consciously cultivating a narrative that you could live up to instead​. Imagine how a more positive narrative could support more preferable outcomes.

In life, this may sound like, “I plan to do well in this interview, so I am going to take every action to support that expectation – like working with a career coach.” Or it may sound like, “Because I am someone who tries hard even when I am overwhelmed or uncomfortable, I am going to ask for help if I feel stuck.” That way, when a challenge arises – as they always do, you will grow to trust in your ability to navigate it.

The more you practice this, the more you will come to realize that your personal narrative really represents the essence of who you are. Your self-talk will evolve into someone who plans to do well during an interview, a business meeting, or a workout class because you become someone who invests in their personal well-being as an extension of your self-concept.

Cultivating positive narratives is not a what-if situation. It is an intentional practice that everyone can benefit from. It provides the framework for who you can become. Most importantly, it’s the key to help us transform into the best version of ourselves, while defending our dreams against a spiral of fear or self-doubt.

So, what does your personal narrative sound like? And how can you live up to it? Share with us below!

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Life

5 Reasons It’s Important to Understand What You Want to Do With Your Life

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understanding your purpose
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No matter your age or your place in life, it is perfectly normal to not know exactly what your next steps should be. There are many factors that can contribute to this situation but it is always important to remember that everything happens for a reason and that this will help you build a much happier you.

There are many ways for you to understand what you should be doing with your life and there are just as many reasons why you should work towards getting a better understanding of those reasons.

If you wish to turn any situation around and start working towards finding your purpose, here are some of the most important reasons why:

1. You will be able to set long term goals for the future

Setting long term goals is one of the things that will help you feel more secure and certain about your future. Instead of relying on living day by day and trying to figure out what your next steps will be without having a future ultimate goal, you will now be able to plan accordingly so that your every step will bring you a step closer to making that dream come true.

One of the things many people forget though is that every plan, no matter how well-organized and planned out it is, will need to be adapted to every situation the person is experiencing. Knowing what your ultimate goal is will help you handle every change of plans with more confidence and will allow you to manoeuvre every situation and turn your problems into positive outcomes.

2. You will get rid of a lot of anxiety

One of the best things about finally getting a better understanding of what you wish to do with your life is that you will finally start feeling less anxious and unsure about the future. Having a certain plan you can follow and looking forward to making a big goal come true will help rid yourself of negative thoughts and allow you to be able to focus on achieving your dreams.

Anxiety is a very common problem in the time we live in and it can make a lot of people feel less productive and scared to take risks, especially in a professional manner. As a result, they tend to hold themselves back and do fewer things than they are capable of, simply because they are too scared to dare.

Realizing what you wish to do in your life and working towards achieving your goals will help you feel less stressed and even if you do, this type of anxiety could actually help you be much more productive and eager to do your best in order to make your dreams manifest into reality.

3. You will be much happier

Understanding what you wish to do in your life will truly help you finally figure out what you are meant to do in your life. For some people, it can help them find their purpose and give them a new perspective on everything they do in their everyday life.

This will help you feel a lot happier and will put your mind at ease, as you won’t have to continue wondering if the path you have chosen to follow is the right one for you or not. Feeling more certain of your decisions will help you feel a lot more confident and happier since you will feel strong enough to overcome anything that might come your way from now and on.

4. You won’t lose time or energy on smaller goals

Setting shorter goals without knowing what you are meant to do in the long run will cost you a lot of energy and time. This will happen as you will spend a lot of time planning out your every move and it will cause you to feel stressed and worried about every little thing going wrong.

Smaller goals will still be important but you won’t spend much time planning them as you would if you didn’t know what your end goal would be. Saving energy and preparing both mentally and physically for reaching your goal will help you achieve a much healthier outlook on dealing with everyday situations and it will make you more excited to complete your ambitions.

5. You will become an expert in one field

Last but not least, another important reason why you should try and understand exactly what you are meant to do in your life is that you will be able to focus all of your time and energy on learning as much as possible and growing only in one certain field.

The uncertainty of having a set goal for your future can make you feel like you need to know many different things in different fields in order to be able to succeed in life and make a living. While having knowledge in various fields is something that will prove to be useful, you will never fully be able to become an expert in one field and make a name for yourself in that sector.

A long term goal will allow you to either study or work full time on one subject you truly enjoy and are good at. This will help you build your reputation, make connections and allow yourself to enjoy and love the path you have chosen even more. As a result, you will be much happier and content with the end goal you have chosen and you will be able to work even harder to achieve all of your dreams.

Working towards a happier you

You might be at a point in your life where you feel like not a lot of things are truly worth your time but the truth is that every little thing you do will help you find what you are meant to do. This will help you feel happy and content and allow you to tackle every issue you come across with much less anxiety and fear.

You will find a lot of stability and comfort in setting a big and important goal for your future and this will allow you to start being more productive and happy to tackle every problem that might come your way. Your life will always be full of surprises and unplanned events but hard work and dedication on your goals will allow you to become the best version of you and enjoy every step of the way.

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