reader inspiration update: lessons learned

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As you may remember, back in October a Makeunder reader shared her story of  intentionalizing her life. She took a huge leap and left her job, unpaid, for three months to figure out what was really important to her. Well, those three months have passed and she’s offered to share what she has learned. Take a look. I’m pretty inspired myself. I keep asking myself what gets me excited and what makes me weaker…



I started my sabbatical de-cluttering and cooking healthy meals. Although I was excited about the free time I would have, there were major life decisions that I was putting on hold because of circumstances, like setting a wedding date and buying a home. I was confused; I had always been a very proactive person and couldn’t understand how I got to such a situation at work where I needed to  go on an unpaid leave from a comfortable job during a recession.

This made me feel very pressured to find answers ASAP! What happened? What do I want to be? What kind of lifestyle do I want? I felt so guilty that I couldn’t really enjoy the time I now had. That first month and a half went by really quickly with no answers.


One day I was browsing and saw a web seminar “Take Control of Your Career and Your Life” featuring Marcus Buckingham; I went through the sessions and it literally changed my life. The main idea of the web workshop is you discovering  what makes you feel good then doing more of that and discovering what weakens you and working towards not doing those activities anymore. This made me realize how many weakening activities I put myself through for various reasons: family, work, because I thought it was good for me, etc…

So now I had a list of Strengths and Weaknesses and strategically filled my days with activities that made me feel good like doing Yoga and learning something new. When I slipped and did something that made me feel weak like saying “Yes” when I really meant “Hell no”, I would go and do something that made me feel good and I would feel so much better. Living life like this felt really good and it lead me to really unexpected places and to exactly what I had been looking for all along. For example on a whim I went to Europe by myself and got to experience snow in Paris and a Masquerade ball under the London Bridge.

Reflect on Your Life and Work

Every month, I plan to go through the exercise of reflecting on the activities in my life that are making me feel good and weak. On top of that, I am writing in a diary and reflecting every day. Sometimes we’ve accomplished a great deal but forget because it never gets documented. I feel confident that this strategy will help me build the life I want. In the short term,  this especially will be helpful now that I am heading back to the same job and don’t want the same thing to happen.


I was not happy with my day to day, but kept hoping that it would get better. I did not have the courage to ask for a personal leave until the sudden death of a long time friend taught me how short life can be. Every day I remind myself how nothing is guaranteed but this moment. It’s hard for a serious future thinking person like me, but I try my best to really enjoy the journey.

On your own journey to design a life with intention? Email me at to share your story here on MML!

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  1. Jess LC, you are so inspiring! This post and the previous one have completely amped up my New Year’s beginning. I love that your exhortations are always accompanied by a personal instance. There’s no clinical and detached feel (as of most self-help books) here – just good ideas and encouragement! I really enjoy reading your blog, and I can’t wait to make my own letter-to-self. Thank you!

  2. Lisa

    This post really resonated with me too. I’m very grateful to your reader for sharing her story and for you for sharing it with the rest of us! I’m definitely going to google Marcus Buckingham because his strengthening / weakening activities perspective sounds very helpful. Thanks!

  3. What a great story to share! I too left my “comfortable” job last year upon realizing that it was comfortable but absolutely sucking the life out of me. Not good! It’s nice to hear that other people have had some of the same struggles that I have. I, too, am definitely looking up that seminar!

  4. Flavia

    Thank you for this! I just love hearing inspiring stories about people who are actively making a positive change in their lives. I just looked up that webinar and plan on following it.

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