Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Critical Care Nurse to Traveling Entrepreneur: How I Mentally Did It

"How did you go to from being a nurse to traveling around the world as an entrepreneur?"

I get this question a lot.

True, my career path has not been very conventional. It's quiet rare, actually. However, it can be done.

Everyone's exact steps are different, so instead of sharing my chronological process, I'd rather share the mindset shifts I had to take on to get to here. If you can incorporate these into your own unique life and desires, you'll find your own beautiful way.

1. It doesn't have to be either/or.

I can either be a nurse or an entrepreneur.

For you, this equation will look different. Maybe you believe that you can either be a great mom or a successful business owner.

The problem with either/or thinking is that it keeps you stuck in one way of being, one mindset. If I could only be a nurse, then entrepreneurship would have been out of the question for me.

As I started my current journey, I had to embrace both-working days in the hospital and exploring entrepreneurship at night.

What's your either/or story? Substitute and to see what possibilities arise.

2. Life is My Playground

I use to believe that life was some dreaded experience that I had been dropped into to endure and win my crown of glory on the other side. However, contrary to what some people believe, life does not have to be as hard as some make it. In fact, life can be fun. It's this amazing experience that only desires we wake up and play in its beauty, resources and even challenges (see #3).

When I shifted my mindset to see the world differently, opportunities began to open up, people arrived, and I started having more fun than I ever imagined.

Do you view life as a war zone or playground?

3. Problems are Puzzles

Most people have been trained to see problems as bad and work really hard to avoid them. The result? Not a lot of action. Timidity. Fear. Playing it safe.

Ultimately, what they get is no change, more fear, more frustration.

I trained myself to see problems differently, viewing them as fun puzzles, not impossible predicaments. These puzzles are what makes life exciting, giving me things to fix, figure out and master. Without them, I'd be a bored mess.

Problems such as lack of money, confusion about next steps, how to create a program, how to be a great mom and a businesswoman and how to deal with a difficult person have become little experiments of discovery instead of dreaded things to avoid.

4. My Body Doesn't Lie

Each time I drove up to the hospital, my body would contract. Each time I attended a wine tasting, my body would expand.

I learned to listen and trust my body, which is why I enrolled in sommelier school and went on to become a food and wine writer and a wine program developer.

My body also led me to Paris. Every time I saw an Eiffel Tower, I became giddy. I didn't know why. The closest I had been to France was Epcot. But, I listened.

When I finally arrived to Paris, I felt at home. The lifestyle, people, fashion, food, everything felt right. Looking back, I realize that my body was leading me to a place where I would trade fear for true appreciation of food, learn about joie de vivire and how to style my life in my own way, which is how I developed the Slim, Chic and Savvy Immersion Experience.

5. I am a smart, strong woman who can do and handle anything.

I remind myself of this daily when I encounter challenges, confusion or difficult situations.

You must, must believe in yourself, because even though life is your playground, people don't always play fair, you will fall and sometimes you'll want to sit on the sidelines to rest.

Regardless of what you encounter, don't forget who you are-a smart, strong woman. And don't forget where you are-a playground full of resources at your disposable to help you live your most fabulous life.

6. I can choose the game I want to play (aka do life my own way)

I had to believe that I had a say-so in what game I played in life. I had to stop trying to be like all the other mamas and create a relationship with my daughter that is genuine and true for her and me. I had to talk with my husband and decide how we wanted our marriage to work so that we are both fulfilled and happy. In my business, I had to stop trying to be like all the other people in my industry and listen to what inspires me, which is why you are about to see some big changes (Hint: think haute couture + travel + food and wine + style + mindplay).

Do it your own way. Sure, people will talk, so see #8.

7. My life is my business, your life is not

What stops so many women from creating fabulous lives is their need to please. They fear what people might say if they admit that they love expensive shoes or that they sometimes want a break from their kids.

When I left nursing, people told me how crazy I was, how I was letting go of security, how I had spent too much time becoming a nurse and should not let it go.

Leaving nursing was scary enough, but with all these frightened people all up in my biz-ness, it was especially so.

I encountered the same reaction last year, when I chose to put my daughter in virtual school.

Some people have even mentioned how strange it is that I often travel without my husband. My our business, not theirs. Thank you very much.

You'll find that when you follow your desires, your life and business will look very different from those around you. They will be scared and/or intimidated by you. So, as we say in the South, bless their little hearts, and commit to playing your own game.

8. Play with the Right People

I'm sure you see people playing a different game in life, one that inspires you. Why not go play with them instead of the kids who are kicking, fighting or not playing at all?

I spent years playing with people who, quite frankly, bored me to tears. They complained about their lives, husbands, children and jobs. As long as I was caught up in their game, I couldn't learn and play a different game.

I guarantee you that the life you desire to live is going to require building excellent relationships with people you are not currently engaging with. You want to be around people who demand that you play your own game, your own way and that you have fun doing it.

Look outside your current social circles and ask who might those people be? Who do you see playing a game that you'd love to learn more about? Walk over there and nicely ask if you can join in.

9. Seek inspiration, not more information

My journey has taken me to some really interesting places. However, the least interesting have been in board rooms with binders. I've spent so much money on programs and systems, but nothing has impacted my business and life more than conversations I've had while sipping pastis with friends in the South of France, writing in a coffee shop in Soho or conversing about social issues at 3 a.m. on a boat full of brilliant minds.

Women come to me because they are frustrated. They've attended workshops, been coached and read hundreds of books, but they still aren't getting results. This is why my programs are experienced based. In the Slim, Chic and Savvy experience, women go on weekend excursions. My travel mastermind takes women around the world to experience life, not just talk and read about it. From seeing themselves in the world in a different way, they play a different game-the game of their choice.

What game do you want to play?

When you see your world differently, your world has to change.

As always, thanks for reading. I'm currently working on some articles about what it's like to work from the road. I'd love to hear what you'd like to know.

In the meantime, go out and play. French Kiss Life!

Tonya Leigh Williams is a coach, speaker, and writer. She is dedicated to empowering women to create amazing lives and bodies without dieting, deprivation and drama. Her passion is helping women find freedom from body image, weight, and food issues. Tonya teaches the secrets of naturally slender people, coaches women on normal eating without deprivation, and shows women how to simultaneously transform their bodies while also living at peace within them. She has helped women lose weight, gain clarity and purpose, and step into a new life free of struggle. If you are interested in learning more about coaching with Tonya Leigh, please visit

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