Dreaming Big – Part 1: Vision Boards

A few nights ago I started thinking about goals. It was random and motivating and ended up turning  into one long, very nerdtastic, project.

In 2010, I created my first vision board! I closed out 2009 with some very big goals for the upcoming year. I was entering into my final year of university and I had a number of intentions: get my degree, complete my designation, keep on track for 5 years of well-rounded HR experience and begin creating my personal brand. 2010 was the year I got involved in social media {really learned and understood why Twitter is rad!}. It was also probably my most successful year of my career.  I figured out what I was good at. I interviewed with executives across the country. I had job offer after job offer. I was recognized for my contributions to the community and my industry. I had opportunity after opportunity presented to me. And, I was happy. Pretty sure I was sleeping 8 hours a night back then too. ;)

I account a lot of my successes that year to dreaming big and staying focused. I had a personal board of directors who kept me in check, a mentor to push me into the uncomfortable and goals that aligned with my personal and professional growth. The year was by no means perfect — Exhibit A, Exhibit B — but did I learn a hell of a lot and did it contribute to who I am today? You bet.

I have no idea where I first learned about vision boards, maybe elementary school. :) I am a visual learner and liked the idea because I thought it would help my dreams come to life. In 2010, I wrote all my goals and then transformed it into a visual. Pretty straightforward.

This year, I approached things a little bit different. 

I’m 100% not ready to write my goals for 2014. I’m still focused on getting through this year and doing a lot of reflection on what worked and didn’t work. I’m very committed to reflection, learning from the past and moving forward with intentions. I feel like I gotta get to the end of the year, get on a plane to the UK, sleep a bit,  figure out what I’ve learned  this year and then write about it. Writing has always helped me move forward. 

I decided I would create a vision board based on my gut. What’s important to me right now, in this very instant? What am I not focusing on, that I really should be focusing on? Who do I want to be? What do I want to achieve in 2014?

A couple of hours later, I ended up with this:


Whoa, eh.

You know when something — just works? I put the finishing touches on my vision board and knew I’d hit the mark. It gave me clarity, inspiration and showed me what I’m working towards: strength, vulnerability, stillness, gratitude and embracing me for me. 

Next up, I plan to write my goals {and make them public!}, find a mentor and re-jig my personal board of directors. All good problems to have.

Interested in making your own vision board? Sweet!

A little advice from me to you:

  1. Brainstorm, dream and dig deep. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gets you jazzed up and talking with your hands? What could you talk about with a stranger till the sun comes up? What is eating away at your brain and something you know you need to focus on?
  2. Do a sanity check with yourself. Did your “dreaming” land you on a tropical island with your mega babe husband, with wads of cash tucked into your bikini, a bling of a ring on your finger and a butler waiting for you with your glass of champagne? Similar to writing goals, you’re not going to want to create a “yeah-freaking-right-this-is-unachieveable-in-one-year board.” ;) Think about what REALLY matters to you — to your core. Start there. Be honest with yourself about what you want. There is no right or wrong. Just remember that you’re human.
  3. Find pictures — whether it be words or images. Pinterest and Google are both great starting places. Drop in keywords {could be related to your career, relationships, health or any items on your bucket list} and scroll through images. This process in itself will get you thinking even more outside the box about what you’re looking for.  When you find images you like, save them all to your desktop.
  4. Send Oprah some gratitude. In my opinion, Oprah has got the best tool on the internet for creating a vision board. Check it out and if it works for you, use it! I always loved Oprah’s web application because it allowed you to export it as .jpg, send to your mentors, save it in your Dropbox, etc.  You can also do an old-school vision board with magazines, scissors, glue, etc! 
  5. Get clear on what you want. When you start uploading pictures to your board, you’ll realize that you don’t love some or they weren’t what you originally intended. My best advice? Go with the flow. Find your focus. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your vision board will be a work in progress and it’ll take a bit for you to be like — whoa, that’s it. 
  6. Keep it top of mind. Make your desktop background your vision board. How’s that for staying present on your goals? Alternatively, you could print it out and pin it up at work or on the fridge at home.
  7. Share it. I’m a big believer in sharing goals. Personally, it keeps me in check with myself and holds me accountable. Whether you want to blog about it, share it with your sister, brother or best friend, or send your mentor a note with your game plan… I’d encourage you to get comfortable with involving others in your journey.
  8. Take action. What’s stopping you? Like Amber Rae says — nothing. Get moving. Hustle. Figure out what you want and GET AFTER IT.
  9. Go with the flow. You may achieve a few things on your vision board — or you may achieve all of it. You will grow over the course of the coming year and your intentions may change. Be flexible and adapt as you evolve.

Dreaming big in 2014? Excited to head down this little journey? Keen on making a vision board or stoked on setting goals? Let me know what you’re working towards, I’d love to be a part of your journey.

PS – I turn 30 in 6 months. Like exactly, 6 months today. Eep. If anyone knows how to process that, please let me know. xo

52 weeks in the kitchen

One thing I learned in 2012 is my way around the kitchen. I have always known the basics, but never cared enough – or spent the time learning about the vast amount of ingredients and spices that exist in the world! The focus this past year has been on clean eating.

Clean eating doesn’t mean eating carrots, broccoli and everything that tastes like cardboard. Instead it means focusing on whole, natural foods. Examples would be fruit, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. The goal is to stay away from processed sugar, bad fats — and anything that is manmade. In simple, it means paying attention to what you put in your body and fueling with good eats.

Over the holidays I was chatting with a coworker about routine, healthy eating and learning to cook. Before you know it our baby was born — and by that, I mean my first 2013 goal — and a fun little project!

Introducing… 52 weeks in the kitchen

1 guy {his name is Alessandro}, 1 girl {that would be me}, 52 ingredients {check them out here}.

The plan is 1 recipe a week till the end of the year!

52 weeks in the kitchen


Over the last few months, I have really enjoyed my time in the kitchen. I love to experiment, cook for others — and plan meals for the week {ughhhh, how housewife of me}. It brings me some sort of weird peace — somewhat like running does… well except for when I drink wine and cook, that’s a different story. ;)

So anyways, 52 weeks begins now. First up, yams!

2013 Run Goals

14482_4741973400731_817288184_nOver the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my goals will be for next year. I haven’t totally figured them out, but it’ll be a focus over the coming weeks. One thing I know for sure is that I love running. Even when I’m procrastinating running and doing everything but running, I still think of it. I know it’s good for my body and brain — and I want to kick some serious pavement {and start to dabble in trails} next year.

Here’s what I know for sure…

5 Half Marathons:

Start to Dabble in Tri-Land:

Become one with the Trails:

Pavement Fun: 

My plan for 2013 was 5 half marathons. I didn’t think I could run 1 this year — and I did! Now it’s time to turn up the challenge:

  • 5 half marathons (including sub 2:00)
  • 10 additional pavement/trail races
  • 1000 km in 2013

The goals are achievable if I listen to my body, proactively work with my favourite physio man — and keep up with the cross training. Oh — and run. ;) I really want to get in the habit of running 3-4km, when I don’t feel like running. In my head… when I process if I’m going to run tonight or not… I always tell myself it needs to be at least 7km. Most of the time I won’t let myself run if it’s less… lame. I need to figure that out stat and get in the habit of doing a few short, easy runs a week… progressing to two 10K’s a week and a Sunday long run.

I’m really excited to work on my pace, cadence and speed. Last year I avoided hill training like the plague. This year I’m geared up for bridge repeats and challenging runs. The ‘flat as a pancake’ seawall will always be my fave, but in order to improve, I’ve gotta switch it up {solid advice from my aunt!}.

Lean mean running machine in 2013. That’s the plan!

Not a Runner to… wha… a Runner!

RunBabyRunExactly one year ago today I set a goal. On December 22, 2011, I told myself I would run a half-marathon. Not because I knew how far a half-marathon was… not because I knew how far 10K was… just because I knew it would be good for my mind.

On January 18, 2012 {such a procrastinator}, I ran for the first time in my life — and on January 22, 2012, I completed my first race. Woop!

Since then it’s been a wild ride. I’ve completed 15 races:

… and ran somewhere between 600-700 km. Not exactly sure as I wasn’t always neurotic with my Nike+ GPS app. ;)

DNF: Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Seattle — injured!

Body: No major injuries, but adductor issues mid-year and my right ankle has been bothering me the last few months. Lost 1 toenail — very close to losing another.

Trained in: Vancouver, BC; Salt Spring Island, BC; Victoria, BC; Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Raced in: Vancouver, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Victoria, BC

Favourite race: Lululemon Seawheeze!

Personal Bests:

  • 1K: 4:11 {August 2012}
  • 1 mile: 7:23  {August 2012}
  • 5K: 24:51 {December 2012}
  • 8K: 43:57 {December 2012}
  • 10K: 56:53 {September 2012}
  • 15K: 1:35:10 {May 2012}
  • 23K: 2:20:17 {August 2012}

So there you have it, 11 months of running — BOOM — officially a runner! :) Running has been hands down the best thing that has happened to me this year. For the first time in my life, I feel strong. I have never ever seen strength in my body — when I check out my arms in the mirror {let’s be honest, guys aren’t the only ones who check themselves out} or to see a picture of these lean legs — I think whoa…! Remember when you were a stick thing Jillian Walker? Remember when?!

Those days are over. Strong is the new skinny.

Strength coupled with breath {and mental sanity} has been my saving grace this year. Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2013 — and celebrating my run anniversary with Monique in San Diego in January!

Thank you to Haley, Derek, Reagan, Pete, Michelle, Jen, Katie, Kate, Kittima, Clare — and the #RunCrew for the encouragement and advice this past year. Meant the world. xo

From 28 to 38

Thanks to a nudge from my friend, Michelle, who is a dynamo at Lululemon Athletica, tonight I wrote my 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals (exciting and stressful all at the same time).


  • I will be dairy free by December 2012.
  • I will yoga it up (power/yin) 3x a week by January 2013.
  • I will complete the UBC Duathlon by March 2013.
  • I will run a sub-2:00 Half Marathon in Vancouver by August 2013.
  • I will write an e-book on career development by September 2013.
  • I will speak at an international conference on rethinking HR by October 2013.


  • I will pay off my undergraduate student loans by December 2013.
  • I will travel to India to teach youth about entrepreneurship by December 2014.
  • I will take 1 ‘mind-body-soul’ me-cation a year by June 2015.
  • I will attend the global TED conference by March 2016.
  • I will run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with my best friend by October 2016.
  • I will complete my Master of Arts in International Communications by August 2017.


  • I will teach part-time at Simon Fraser University by December 2017.
  • I will run the Boston Marathon by April 2018.
  • I will devour every ounce of South Africa by March 2019.
  • I will support/mentor Scoliosis patients at BC Childrens Hospital by December 2020.
  • I will write and publish a book by June 2021.
  • I will consult with the UN Foundation on solving global issues by December 2022.


You know what’s scary? I actually think I can do it — and the goal I’m most confident on is the last one. Eeep!

Some people will read this post and think I’m doomed for a nervous breakdown — or  think yah right, like this will ever happen. Others will read it and think — power to yah girl!

I’m a goal setter. It’s who I am. 

I have no doubt that my goals will change and evolve based on the experiences I have over the next few years. Guess what? I’m ok with that.

Regardless if it’s working towards running the Boston Marathon {god help me} — or raising goats in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan {not in the plan, but you never know}, I’m a big believer in moving forward, learning, challenging myself — and most importantly, being happy with where I’m at and where I’m headed.

Lululemon’s goal setting worksheet was extremely helpful in writing my goals and if you want to jump on the goal setting train, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

The 5am Club

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to hear Robin Sharma speak at The Art of Leadership in Vancouver. Robin spoke about leading without a title, pushing possibilities, daily devotions and so much other goodness.

I have read a few of his books and my expectations were high. He completely blew them out of the water. We’re writing a blog post over at JCI Vancouver on the day; it’ll be posted later this week.

5 Daily Devotions by Robin Sharma:

1. Rise each and every morning at 5 A.M. Those who get up early are those who get the best from life.

2. Set aside the first sixty minutes of your day as you “holy hour.” This is your sacred time to do the inner work that will help you live your highest life.

3. Display a standard care, compassion, and character well beyond what anyone could ever imagine from you.

4. Display a standard of excellence at work far higher than anyone would ever expect from you.

5. Devote yourself to being the most loving person you know and thinking, feeling, and acting, as though you are one of the greatest people on the planet (because you are).

So what is the point of this post?

The 5am club. Yep, 5am.

Robin reinforced that those who get up at 5am rule the world. Immediately I thought that those who are up at 5am can’t sleep because they are stressed out, overworked and/or have bad habits. But nope! There’s a group of people on this planet who have a major success strategy. They get up early to get ahead of their peers, colleagues and friends. They get up early to take a moment to breathe. They get up early to get a good start to their day and be organized for the 8am rush.

The most successful people I know get up at 5am. I don’t define success as ballin’ rich. I more mean that they are highly organized, embrace ‘work/life’ balance, seem to be at peace and are totally superstar entrepreneurial minds.

A few big biz minds who are early to rise:

I’ve never been a morning person. I think that’s because I’ve next to never rested. I don’t allow myself to get a whole lot of sleep and I usually run myself into the wee hours. Take for example it’s currently 4:27am on an early Tuesday morning right now. I love being up at this time of night, because it is quiet… the world is sleeping. I get more done and I enjoy the peace.

A little about me? I’m always late. Generally disorganized. Often overwhelmed by communication channels. Experience death by Inbox a few times a week. I always feel like I don’t have enough time in the day and I’m constantly bogged down in interruptions and conflicting priorities.

By integrating the 5am club into my life, it’ll force me to go to sleep early. I know there is no way I’ll be able to achieve the goal if I don’t go to sleep early. The plan is to adopt the routine/ritual/whatever into my life and see what happens. My goal is 5am on weekdays and give myself flexibility on weekends for a 6am  start. There are definitely people who think it should be 5am everyday, but that seems a little crazy card to me. This isn’t the military!

An early start to my day will allow me to stay on track with my run schedule, work out, go to yoga, enjoy a cup of tea, tackle the task list and increase my productivity. Sharma says that you should have ‘me time’ in the morning; nurture your body. I don’t really care what I do as long as I’m more organized and at peace.

Similar to being up at night… Being up before the masses will allow me to get shit done {in a way that’s probably better on the body — and mind}. When I do work on-site with clients, I usually aim for 9am or 9:30am… that means I’ll have 4 hours of time before I have to be there. FOUR. So much time to utilize in a productive and effective manner.

5am is scary early.

Robin offers these 5 tips for getting on track with 5am:

1. Don’t eat after 7pm.

2. Don’t lounge in bed after your alarm clock goes off. Jump out of bed and start your day.

3. Get into world-class physical condition.

4. Set goals; they breathe life and energy into your days. .

5. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes early.

He also expresses the importance of getting massages, managing your diet, dumping your worries (writing in a journal) and loving what you do. If you learn better visually or audible, check out his video here.

5am club begins on April 16. 

The plan is 5 weeks; ending on May 20th.

From there, we’ll see how it goes. I’d love to be able to implement this tactic long-term, but I don’t want to make any promises to myself yet. I have not booked travel in the next 5 weeks and there is nothing that really conflicts or gets in the way of 5am. So, no excuses right?? I have no doubt there will be days I press snooze and totally fail, but that’s likely part of the lesson.

Wish me and my alarm clock luck. I’m already dreading the beep, beep, beep. :)

Happy Tuesday!

PS – Giving myself a week till I start so that I can get caught up on all my bad habits and maybe catch a few winks of sleep. Think that sounds crazy? It probably is. Cowabunga. 

Finding My Groove

via She Takes on the World

I’m feeling a lot of pressure these days to figure out my life.

What do I want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years? What do I want to do?

What’s weird about this is that I am NOT that person who plans her future. Yes, I plan my week, my month and next 6 months. I’ve always been the employee (and maybe girlfriend actually) who gets anxiety over talking about anything past 12 months. It’s not that I can’t commit or don’t want to — it’s that I want to live in the present. From a career perspective, I’ve always considered opportunities as they have been presented and then decided my game plan. I follow both my company and my best interest. From a relationship perspective, I’m 27 years old and the last thing I want right now is marriage and babies. Life constantly changes and no one can predict someone’s next move. By centering myself on the present, I have less expectation of others and push myself to live a fulfilled life. I’m committed to my future — but  I don’t define that as a job title, tall dark and handsome Italian husband or a white picket fence. ;)

So then what on earth is my issue with wanting to figure out my life?

I don’t know, but I feel that I’m not making progress. Yep, I quit my corporate company, joined a startup, moved cities, feel like I’m in a good head space — and yep, in my brain, I haven’t made enough progress. I probably need to think about how I define ‘progress’ but for now I will associate it with growth.

Last week I was blessed to have a serious chat with a peer I totally respect. He understands me. He doesn’t look at the high expectations I have for myself as a negative. He challenges me to be better. He offered fresh perspective. He challenged me to start thinking about what drives me, to get back on the path I was on in 2010.

If I were to identify what is different from late mid 2010 to current… what’s missing is goals. Well, yes, of course I have goals. I want to visit Australia, complete a Masters Degree and start a non-profit. BUT I don’t have goals on a weekly, quarterly or annual basis.

And perhaps ‘forgetting’ to set goals (being too busy, excuse, excuse, excuse) is making it hard for me to measure (and potentially make) progress. By the way, I have always set my goals as business, personal, health, travel — well rounded SMART goals are the only way to go.

I’ve been doing some major self-reflection. I’ve been taking that moment to re-confirm my values, identify my passion and think about what could be. How will the future look? What will it take for me to be fulfilled?

Strengths Finder 2.0 is a tool we use at Elevated HR and also something I have found huge value in. My strengths are: Achiever, Learner, Focus, Command, Futuristic.

So Strengths Finder offers the following ‘facts’ about me:

  • I have a great deal of stamina and work hard. I take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  • I have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites me.
  • I can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. I prioritize, then act.
  • I have presence. I can take control of a situation and make decisions.
  • I am inspired by the future and what could be. I inspire others with my visions of the future.

Couple that with being classified as a Yellow-Red-Green-Blue with Insights Discovery and ENFJ with Meyers Briggs… I’m both clear and confused. :)

I look at all these incredible men and women in my life (whether I know them or not, they are still in my life) and think they have figured it out… when will I? And more importantly, do I need to?

I read an inspiring post tonight: 26 Lessons from a 26 Year Old CEO by Shama Kabani. Great tips for any CEO, Entrepreneur and dreamer. You can follow Shama on Twitter and/or check out the  Young Entrepreneur Council too!

Shama and fellow bright lights motivate me to keep pushing forward.

Relevant advice I was recently given:

Do everything possible to hold yourself accountable.

For me this means setting goals, measuring goals and reporting back to my personal Board of Directors. Find that group of people who want to see you grow and be great. It could be a support group, a non-profit organization or a mentor. Whatever it is, find it. Ensure growth.

The big question tonight is… why am I on this planet?

Anyone know the answer?

[… currently writing my goals.] :)