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When Saying Yes Is the Next Best Step

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast featuring Tisha Parker who believes in the power of saying yes when opportunity knocks, rather than letting your fear or the unknown keep you confined within your comfort zone.   Sometimes saying yes is just the push and motivation we need to answer the door and walk through it.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and English business mogul, is revered for his limitless vision, which he attributes to his boldness and his willingness to say yes.  “Even if I have no idea where I’m going or how to get there, I prefer to say yes, instead of no…opportunity favors the bold.”  Imagine if we approached our own lives and business endeavors with that same unshakable belief, if we saw in ourselves what other already recognize.  The reality is, the opportunity wouldn’t have been offered, or presented itself, if there was any doubt about whether you were the right person for the role, or if you lacked the skill set necessary to follow through.  The only thing limiting us is our paralyzing over-analyzing and our fear of the unknown.

Opportunities Are There, If We Take Them

Countless professionals and entrepreneurs have regrets over opportunities come and gone, but rarely have any ever taken the leap and experienced disastrous failure.  If anything ,those setbacks become setups for another opportunity more aligned with your vision and your skill set.  Mark Perna—speaker, author, and CEO, finally began to experience growth in his life and career by adopting a simple philosophy: “Say yes…and then figure out how.”   Your capabilities will be stretched, and your comfort zone redrawn.

You Were Already Chosen

If an employer asks us to complete a task that we don’t know how to do, we don’t say no, instead we learn how to do it and develop a new skill in the process.  We feel safe taking on these risks because we feel known by our employers—they wouldn’t ask us to do something they didn’t think we were capable of.  But, when it comes to clients, or acquaintances, those very same asks, elicit a gut reaction of self-doubt and the words, “I’m flattered, but…” tumbling out of our mouths.  If we are being sought out or referred, our skill set and our capabilities speak for themselves.  We need only to silence our inner critic, and step into what others see in us. According to Tamara Kulish, personal development author, “If we can see ourselves through the other person’s eyes, we can see they already see us as being capable of learning the needed skills, because we’ve done it before. By taking a step back from our fears, from our anxieties, we can look more objectively at ourselves, and gain the self-confidence we need to move forward!”

Get Fanatical

In order to say yes, without knowing the how, you’ve got to be a bit fanatical.  Your passion, your fandom, for your vision or your calling has to overshadow your inner critic and your self doubt and it has to put imposter syndrome in its place.  When you are wildly passionate about something, you live in a beautiful state of naïve and zealous possibility.  If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, no amount of losses will ever cause you to walk away from your team.  Similarly, if you become fanatical about your calling, your comfort zone will no longer exist because you’ll want to say yes, even if your logical side is telling you to say no.  This is the exact phenomenon Carole Fossey describes when she was asked to write a chapter for the wildly successful book, The Law of Brand Attraction, a collaboration of over 20 entrepreneurs to inspire and encourage other entrepreneurs during these difficult times.  Her love of writing and helping others superseded her to-do list, her “yes” became the catalyst for action.

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” –Richard Branson

When was the last time you said yes, without hesitation or reservation in the pursuit of your dream?  What if we changed our mindset to one of invitation?  What if we showed up to the party, established connections, and found community with other fanatical visionaries?  The secret to success is motivated innovation; it starts with a yes.

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Respite Between the Lines: Journaling as a Tool for Reflection, Rest, and Reconnection

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast featuring Heidi Bartolotta and Jennifer Becker, who believe in the power of journaling and its practice as a foundation for personal happiness and professional success.   Your journal is like the big sister to your childhood diary—more meditation and less mindless meandering, more gratitude and less angst, more reflection than rebellion.

Many of us willingly turned to the pages of a diary or a journal throughout our childhood or teen years, confiding our triumphs and failures and scrawling the minutia of our daily lives between the lines. But somewhere along the way, we lost touch with our now dust covered collection, our faithful friend now a mere acquaintance.  When our lives became busy and our schedules filled, we confided in our significant other and with friends over happy hour; we turned to social media to vent our frustrations and share our celebrations.  And in the midst of the world’s tumult, and an ever growing sense of disconnect, it may be time to pick up our pens and our journaling practice again.

Reflection | Journaling rewires the brain.

Incorporating gratitude into your journaling practice is proven to improve your mood and rewire your brain to look for, and be more mindful of, the positive.  In fact, Consciously practicing gratitude daily actually strengthens our neural pathways for our “feel good emotions” based on the neurotransmission of dopamine and serotonin according to Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva, a well-known meditation training site.

Rest | Journaling heals emotional and physical wounds.

The act of writing allows us to organize and process the events and traumas we are subject to, ultimately allowing us to, “organize an event in our mind, and make sense of trauma.  When we do that, our working memory improves, since our brains are freed from the enormously taxing job of processing that experience, and we sleep better”.  And this, according to Dr. Pennebaker, a social psychologist, boosts both our immune systems and our moods.  When we heal our emotional wounds through actively pursuing progress, our physical health follows suit.

Fewer emotional stressors and mental burdens tumbling over throughout our brain on repeat, frees up our energy and capacity for living. In 2013, researchers found that the effects of journaling actually have the ability to heal physical wounds when the practice is both consistent and genuine, occurring for at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

Reconnection | Journaling connects us to our past and opens the door to progress

When we empty our brain on the page, topics and insights will begin to emerge; after we process what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, refers to as “all that angry, petty, whiny stuff”, our interaction with our current world reveals itself.  This track record then becomes a visual reminder of our growth when we reflect back on the previous day, week, month, year, or years.  And, if you’re participating in the practice of journaling regularly and consistently, you’ll begin to take action toward improving your circumstances as well, “It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action”.

So where do you begin, in picking up a friendship that has been all too neglected? Is there a right way to re-introduce yourself, to pick up where you left off? The good news is, the experts all agree –authenticity and consistency are the only two keys.  Whether you journal about gratitude, record your child’s latest sayings for posterity, or jot down an inspirational quote from a podcast, the practice itself allows you to rest, reconnect, and reflect while finding respite between the lines.

We suggest starting with a listen to this week’s episode on the various ways Heidi and Jennifer have used journaling both personally and professionally, trying out the ‘Morning Pages’ practice described in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, or starting with recording three daily gratitude’s. Here are some great ‘conversation starters’ to rekindle that friendship between pen and page.

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Change is Neutral: Learn to Pivot to Advance in Your Profession

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with Alexandra Lundgren, a Financial Advisor with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the financial sector, who believes that change is both constant and out of our control.  What we can control is the perspective of change we bring into the boardroom, and rather than fear it, utilize it to our benefit.

Although change is constant, it doesn’t change the fact that for many of us, it is at the center of most of our difficult decisions and circumstances as largely controlled and stable adults.  And if the last year-and-a-half of being through the pandemic wringer has taught us anything, it’s that our work environment is no longer immune to sweeping change.  We used to fear mergers and acquisitions, now we’re facing a near literal collapse of the corporate ladder leaving employees in the limbo of what Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, now calls a “jungle gym”.  Just as we learned to embrace and utilize change to our benefit in our personal life, we must bolster ourselves to remain both competitive and relevant in today’s work culture. Ultimately, our ability (or inability) to adapt determines our ability to advance.

  1. Standing Still in Uncertainty

Whenever a change occurs, we are faced with unfamiliar challenges causing us to feel anxious, apprehensive, and altogether uprooted.  Rather than swimming in the sea of unknowns, it is imperative that we take hold of what we do have control over—our perspective.  Worldwide recruiting experts, HAYS, suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is your interpretation of the change you are facing rational, objective and based purely on the facts?
  • Can you challenge your interpretation with an opposing argument?
  • If so, what’s the alternative perspective of this situation?

If you can get to eye of the storm and pinpoint where your angst about the change is coming from, you are more apt to change your mindset, and begin taking the other steps necessary to move forward toward a productive outcome.

  1. Connection Through Discord

Whether you’re the instigator of change, or on the unenlightened receiving end of a structure’s upending, it is important for you and your employees to feel like you have connection over shared concerns and fostered relationships.  Forbes suggests granting space for personal conversations to process the stress and “adapt more quickly to change”.

  1. Speak Up! Communicate and Ask Questions

A major contributing factor to what the American Psychological Association has discovered about “organizational changes such as restructuring or new leadership [that] can lead to employees who overly stressed, have less trust in their employers, and have a greater desire to find new jobs” is the onslaught of secondary information.  Without directly communicating with those behind the change, it is easy to listen to the most trusted voice in the room—even if that trusted voice is speaking from a place of second hand information.  Instead, communicate your concerns to both your co-workers and supervisors, and ask specific and vague questions to address all of the “what if’s” bombarding you.  Be proactive in seeking out first hand knowledge to subdue your suspicions and skepticism.

  1. Resistance is Futile! (And Detrimental)

We cause ourselves more grief than is necessary in our clinging to  “the way things were” or “the way things have always been” by activating our Avoidance Coping powers.  The truth is that avoiding the change won’t help us cope at all because the change is occurring whether or not we embrace it.  Instead, and in the hopes of using the change to our benefit, we must practice active coping by tackling the problem head-on, “Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps toward managing it.”

  1. Change Through the Lens of a Growth Mindset

In order to harness change and its energy, we must change our perspective toward it.  When we take hold of our negative thoughts toward change and confront those thoughts with reality and positivity as a potential for growth, we begin to reframe our view.  We determine where our fears are stemming from, and we address them with a simply cost/benefit analysis.  For example, “additional responsibilities and the opportunity to manage your workload more independent could help to advance your career.”

Change is not the enemy, but our resistance to it certainly is.  Change becomes a direct reflection and amplifier of our greatest fears and insecurities; let’s utilize this opportunity to stand firmly grounded in the known and to embrace the opportunity of the unknown. No one achieved 6-figures by shutting the door on change, instead they answered it and found opportunity on the other side.

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Improve Your Focus and Outperform the Hardest Worker in the Room: You

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Laurel Hamblin, an incredibly successful realtor in the Treasure Valley at the young age of twenty-three, who credits her success to her pursuit of personal growth and the time she invested in herself and her career by taking the steps necessary to establish focus, even when it required (and continues to require) sacrifice.

In addition to the stress, the worry, and the very real consequences the last two years have brought many of us, now we’re facing another fallout: the inability to focus.  According to Harvard Medical School, ‘brain fog’ can be caused a variety of factors that accumulate in “wear and tear that affects processing”; these factors can range from physiological stressors to the very real plague of information overload.  “We are bombarded with information from TVs, computers, and messages such as texts or emails.  ‘When there’s too much material, it burdens our filtering system and it’s easy to get distracted.’” So how do we get back to our ability to focus? How do we become so passionate about the task at hand that we lose all track of time, notifications, and the buzzing of our devices?

Start Here

Our brain is a muscle, and does a lot of heavy lifting.  Neuropsychologist Kim Willment suggests rehabilitating our brain’s capacity for focus by participating in a single-task exercise like reading.  “Read something for 30 minutes, setting a timer to go off every five minutes.  When it goes off, ask yourself if your mind as wandered.  If so, just refocus on what you’re reading. By training your brain to monitor if your mind is wandering, you strengthen the monitoring process and the ability to maintain focus on a single task.”


No Direction

Performance Psychologist, Helen D’Silva, attributes our struggle to focus to a lack of clarity about what we need to do next.  Without clear steps in the beginning phase of any task, we will succumb to our emotions and become derailed.  It’s worth noting, that the plan itself doesn’t need to be fool proof.  Instead, our plan simply needs to trick our own inner critic to feel confident enough to move forward in taking the next step.


Warren Buffet’s “2 List” Strategy

Part of our inability to focus is largely due to our inability to prioritize; we believe that everything deserves our time and attention and we struggle to say no to tasks and other people’s priorities that pull us away from our own.  Buffet asked his personal pilot to go through this exercise to help him to better focus on what mattered most to him.  First, he had him create a list of 25 career goals, then he had him circle his top 5 goals; at this point he had 2 lists, List A, and 20 un-circled items on List B.  Buffet’s pilot, Flint, said we would begin working on List A right away, to which Buffet asked what he would do with List B.

Flint replied, “Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”

To which Buffett replied, “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”


Be Still

When you’re trying to focus and make headway on a project or a goal, nothing can be more frustrating than tasks that pull you out of “the zone”.  Unfortunately, that zone rarely requires intentionality or your full presence.  In order to get focused rather than busy, we must first get still.  “Mindfulness is about focusing attention on the present moment and practicing mindfulness has been shown to rewire the brain so that attention is stronger in everyday life,” says Kim Willment.



Distraction has become our new normal, and our devices are normalizing that distraction.  According to AARP, older Americans have superior attention spans due in large part to their limited interaction with technology during vital years. “When participants in a study at Hokkaido University in Japan performed a task on a computer, those with a phone nearby performed more slowly than those who had a memo pad. Similarly, a single notification on your phone weakens your ability to focus on a task, researchers at Florida State University found. Those notifications may be short, but ‘they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind wandering,’ the researchers wrote.”

Even worse? Our inability to unplug is creating anxiety and increased stress levels.  When our bodies are in a physiological state of “fight or flight” we cannot expect to focus on any higher-level thinking or performance for that matter.

While there are simple ways to improve our focus like keeping the room at an optimal temperature (77 degrees according to Cornell University) and chewing gum, the truth is that in order to reap the rewards of our increased ability to focus, we have to first put in the hard work to recalibrate our brains by cutting through the noise of the outside world.  When you establish your focus again, protect and maintain it.  You can only outwork the hardest worker, if you can focus your hard work on the most important goals on List A.

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Women Should Be Seen, and Heard

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Sharon Faustina, CFO, who leapt into her own professional growth rather than remaining in her reliable position.  Sharon became proactive in championing herself and her skill set by emulating what her male counterparts were doing to receive promotions, ultimately saving herself by ‘getting unstuck’.

 If you’ve been around the sun for more than a few rotations, chances are you’ve seen a woman you love be passed over for a promotion, a pay raise, or a more prestigious title.  According to the data, there’s a high likelihood that as a career woman you’ve not only witnessed this happen to other women, but you’ve also found yourself in that same stuck position.  So what do we tell our friends, our daughters, ourselves about the value of our work when it isn’t recognized in the world?

The Status Quo

According to a 2019 report, Women in the Workplace, conducted by McKinsey & Company and Lean In, ceilings that were once shattered have begun to hinder working women once again.

  • From 2015 to 2019, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of companies who have at least three women in their “C-Suite” (where chief executives and officers rub shoulders).
  • At the same time, 35% of companies surveyed in 2019 had only one female C-level executive, or none at all.
  • Women are underrepresented at every level, not just the top tiers. The problem with this lack of representation in the workplace is the “implication for the rest of a woman’s career”; fewer women in lower management positions means fewer women on the path to greater leadership positions that ultimately lead to those coveted C-Suite roles.
  • For every 100 men promoted, only 72 women receive a similar promotion.


Gender Bias

Women are every bit as ambitious as their male counterparts, comprising nearly half of the entry-level workforce, but they’re obviously hitting a roadblock between the beginnings of their careers and making the leap to the C-suite. Experts believe lingering gender bias is the main culprit.

  • In the same aforementioned Women in the Workplace report, authors identified an important linchpin, “Women are often hired and promoted based on past accomplishments, while men may be hired and promoted based on future potential,” the authors wrote.
  • Unconscious bias is still running rampant in workplace cultures. In the Forbes article, “Women in the Workplace: Why They Don’t Get Recognized as Much as Men”, contributor Maria Minor states it simply, “Some leaders still carry the assumption that males have more potential than a well-qualified woman. Even gender achievements are perceived differently.”
  • Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and the founder of Lean In, identified the following prevalent bias still plaguing the workforce, particularly when women assert themselves and participate in negotiating their value, “We expect men to be assertive, look out for themselves, and lobby for more—so there’s little downside why they do it. But women must be communal and collaborative, nurturing, and giving, focused on the team and not themselves, lest they be viewed as self-absorbed.  So when a woman advocates for herself, people often see her unfavorably.”


Mentorship and Sponsorship

While we all recognize the importance of mentorship in our careers, there is a different kind of mentorship that men are more likely to encounter that gives them a significant upper hand in the workforce—sponsorship.

  • When the Harvard Business Review interviewed men and women regarding valuable career advice, the difference between male and female mentorship became clear, along with the outcomes, “Many women explain how mentoring relationships have helped them understand themselves, their preferred style of operating, and ways they might need to change as they move up the leadership pipeline. By contrast, men tell stories about how their bosses and informal mentors have helped them plan their moves and take charge in new roles, in addition to endorsing their authority publicly.”
  • According to The McKinsey and LeanIn study, women are not granted the same chances as men for support and guidance when it comes to the pursuit of their career opportunities; women are 24% less likely to be offered advice from a senior leader than men.


Thankless Tasks

In addition to bias and a lack of sponsorship holding women back in ‘reliable’ positions, women are often expected to, or they are ‘voluntold’ to take on tasks that are necessary to a company’s success but that are both thankless and, perhaps worse, viewed as “non-promotable”.

  • According to research, women are more likely to volunteer for “non-promotable” tasks than men, meaning they spend more time and energy getting selfless things done rather than focusing on getting new positions.
  • These tasks look different depending on your profession, but no profession is immune to such tasks. A study at the collegiate level reviewed 3,271 faculty members at a public university and found that while only 2.6% of men volunteered for the faculty senate committee, 7% of women did.  Simply put, women are more likely to take on a role that will not lead to a promotion.


Flipping the Script

How can we make the C-suite more accessible for women in the workforce and instill the confidence in the women in our lives (and in ourselves) that their work is both valuable and recognized?  According to CEO of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis, the solutions to this problem do exist, it’s just a matter of enacting them.

  • Accountability in our corporations | First, we must create specific plans to advance women in the workplace, including unconscious bias training, hiring, and promotion women fairly and providing equal access to sponsorship and mentorship opportunities. Further still, supervisors should begin to rotate and evenly assign responsibilities between all employees rather than relying on women to volunteer.
  • Know your value | Women are undeniably more prone to the fallout of Imposter Syndrome than men; both genders question their ability to take on new roles, but men simply step into those roles while women will second guess and over analyze their seat at the same table. If a man only possesses 6 of 10 skills identified as imperative to the position’s role, he will learn and enact the other 4; conversely, if a woman is missing even one skill, she’ll remove herself from the conversation altogether.  We have to value ourselves before we can expect others to recognize that same value.
  • Help each other | The lack of support and sponsorship that actually works is not a male or female issue; instead it is a leadership issue. Leaders should be focused on mapping out a pathway for all employees to advance rather than simply flooding the pipeline with more skilled individuals and no guidance. Businesses should be investing in intentional sponsorship programs following the example of Deutsche Bank, rather than relying on employees to seek out their own mentorship, that is often informal and benefits individuals on more of a personal level than a professional one.

Women bring a unique and powerful skill set and perspective to the workforce, that once recognized is irreplaceable.  We must advocate for our presence in the boardroom, and speak so as to solidify our place amongst the echelon of the C-suite.  Women should be seen and heard, their work and their worth is valuable and it cannot wait for another trip around the sun to be celebrated and compensated.

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The Greater the Education, The Greater the Reward (and Risk)

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Whitney Bator, Doctor of Dental Surgery, who began her pursuit of a profession in medicine beginning in high school and ultimately found success after years of education and training.

I ask my son often what he wants to be when he grows up because I am genuinely interested in and delighted by what ideas are driving his unique mind, and what lights his soul on fire. Without fail his response is always along the lines of paleontologist, conservationist, or zoologist –he loves animals and facts and research and the list goes on. Do you remember your own unwavering conviction when adults would ask you, with earnest (or perhaps they were just making child appropriate small talk) what you wanted to be when you grew up? Your response likely changed any number of times, but whatever that dream career was in the given moment that the question was asked, you were unshakeable in your response…that is until you had your first encounter with doubt and uncertainty.

Despite our ever-evolving interests and passions, there are certain career paths that necessitate certainty (even if only temporary) in their pursuit due to the financial, personal, and educational sacrifices required.

Physician Shortage

According to data recently published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) the United States will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 due to demand increasing at rates faster than supply can meet.

  • The shortage will include both primary care and specialty care providers.
  • The major factor driving demand for physicians continues to be a growing, aging population.
  • The supply of physician assistants (Pas) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is projected to continue to increase ultimately leading to an over saturation of providers in these fields.
  • The shortage will most drastically affect historically underserved and rural areas, but will be felt (and already is) by patients everywhere.

The Risk | Our nation is facing a dire shortage of medical providers.

The Reward | For those interested in pursuing a career in medicine, there is job security, opportunity, and a 6-figure salary on the other side of all the sacrifices made.


Increased Interest

Health-care and medical pathways have always been at the forefront of interest for high school career education programs, but the pandemic has only further accelerated this demand according to EducationWeek.

  • Students see a need and want to be a part of the solution.
  • “Health care, like most career fields, took a massive hit in the immediate wake of the coronavirus, with 1.5 million health-care jobs lost from February to April of last year. But as the virus spread, health care lost fewer jobs and bounced back more quickly than the U.S. labor market as a whole.”

The Risk | Hands-on training is a challenge, both for high school students in work-study and job-shadowing positions and in residency programs and placements for medical students.

The Reward | The predicted physician shortage will be met with a supply of adaptable, innovative, and compassionate providers who received their education in the midst of a global pandemic.  Students are not being scared away from the profession, in fact, one of the educators surveyed by EducationWeek noted that of her “18 seniors in the medical pathway last spring, a dozen were put on the state’s nurse aide registry after graduation.”


Is There a Doctor in the House?

The truth is, if you, or someone in your life wants to pursue a career in medicine, it is never too late to do so, and there are many ways to climb the rungs on the ladder to achieve a successful career filled with rewards after taking calculated risks along the way.

  • Explore Your Options | If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in medicine, investigate the profession as much as possible before you begin climbing the ladder. Interview local doctors and specialists, seek out clinical experience and job shadowing, and ensure the rigorous coursework is worth the rigor.
  • Experience Other Things | In our interview with Whitney Bator, DDS, she offered this advice to her younger self and those interested in pursuing a career that requires financial, personal and educational sacrifices like medicine and law; she advised listeners to take time to explore other interests and pursuits to ensure the sacrifices to be made won’t be made in vain.

  • Do Your Homework | Know the academic prerequisites for admission, find an academic advisor who will help guide you in your endeavors, and take advantage of secondary and post-secondary opportunities like concurrent credit courses and medical certifications. Pursue extracurricular activities that will set you apart while also providing practical experience and a front row seat to the impact of your future profession; consider scholarly research positions, working as a medical scribe, or volunteering at a local clinic.
  • Fund Your Future | While debt is an inevitable risk for the reward of a career in medicine, you can mitigate how much of that risk you take on by being proactive in finding funding. Here is an incredible resource compiled by Kevin Keith, a third-year medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina on getting started.
  • Set Your Course & Your Boundaries | Once you’ve determined your educational and career path, it’s important that you know what to say NO to so that you can preserve your YESES for the ones that are the best. You will likely have years of saying NO to things you would like to do in order to say YES to the things you have to do in the pursuit of your goal.  Find the people you can turn to who will understand your current sacrifices, who will support you, and who will love you through this season.

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela

With every career path there are risks and rewards, and sacrifices made in the pursuit of becoming a paleontologist or a pathologist.  If it sets your soul on fire, the sacrifices are never made in vain.