Purge negative people. Unfriend, unfollow, or block anyone on social media who frequently complains or makes you feel bad about yourself. Distance yourself from anyone who isn’t encouraging, supportive, or motivating to you. If you can’t cut someone from your life altogether, establish healthy boundaries and spend less time with them. You become who you surround yourself with, so spend more time with people who inspire you. I only spend time with people who add value to my life, including my husband, mom, and a few close friends who are positive and uplifting.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Starbuck.
Nicole Starbuck is a spiritual mentor and life coach empowering entrepreneurs to become the best version of themselves. She helps people go from anxious to aligned by showing them how to pursue their soul’s purpose in life. You can learn more about her personal experience with anxiety in her book, Stress Size: How My Hunger For Control Almost Killed Me.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Fresh out of college, I started my “career” as an assistant store manager at a major retailer. The stress of working rotating shifts with mandatory overtime during the holiday season strained my mental health and physical wellbeing. I ignored the warning signs, and I ended up in the emergency room with a panic attack. That’s when I realized I wasn’t living up to my potential or fulfilling my purpose in life. I quit my job and started spending more time on my personal growth and development. Later, I successfully launched my own business helping others as a coach and mentor. I now show people how to shift from anxious to aligned so they can stress less and achieve more.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
After I’d quit my job as an assistant store manager, I started working from home as a virtual assistant for Silicon Valley startups. The pay was decent, and it was convenient working from home, but I wanted something more. I remember driving home from the store one day, wishing something new would come along. The very next day, I received an email from a previous colleague asking me to work for her. It was the Law of Attraction in action, and, ironically, she was a law of attraction coach! This opportunity enabled me to quit my other job and earn more money working fewer hours. The partnership also provided me with the training, tools, and resources I needed to later go into business for myself.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Listen to your body. Long before burnout, there are warning signs. Symptoms are your body’s way of talking to you, but often, you’re too busy to pay attention to what your body is saying. If you don’t heed the warnings, your body will force you to listen by shutting down. That’s when burnout strikes. To thrive, slow down, pay attention to yourself, and prioritize your self-care. Remember that someone’s urgency isn’t your emergency, and no amount of money is worth sacrificing your self-care or sanity. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself so you can be of service to others.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Don’t expect perfection. Instead, learn to have grace with standards. Let your team know it’s okay to be human, and it’s okay to make mistakes as long as they’re willing to learn from them. As a recovering perfectionist and former people pleaser, I can personally attest to the pressure of giving 110% all the time. Eventually, I learned doing your best doesn’t mean neglecting yourself. We can strive for excellence and still take care of ourselves too.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki changed my life. It was the catalyst for my journey as an entrepreneur, giving me the courage to go into business for myself.
While I was still working as a virtual assistant, I was having a particularly busy day when one of my friends sent me a PDF copy of the book and challenged me to read it before the end of the night. It was only 115 pages — two or three hours of reading at the most — but with my plate already full, this seemed like an impossible task. He then asked me if my unwillingness to invest in a few hours of reading would be the reason why I failed financially. This thought impacted me, and so I gave the book a chance.
While I didn’t finish or even start the book that day, I read it over the next few days. And the more I read, the angrier I became. I don’t think I’ve ever been so mad in my life. I was upset because I’d done all of the “right” things — I’d gone to school, gotten good grades, had a decent job with good pay and excellent benefits — and yet, I was still struggling with my finances on getting my life on track.
The book explained what I was doing wrong, why I was working so hard and still barely making ends meet. It showed me that I wasn’t doing the “right” thing by having a “safe, secure job.” In fact, by being lulled into the supposed security of standard employment, I was falling into a trap. It’s no wonder I felt stuck. That’s when I realized I needed to start my own business and stop trading my time for money. I needed to work smarter, not harder.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
From my experience, here are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times:
1. Don’t watch the news. What you focus on grows, and most media channels focus on what’s going wrong in the world. All of this negativity exacerbate or even cause stress and anxiety. For example, my parents and in-law watch the news every day, and all they ever seem to talk about is what’s wrong with the world. If watching TV brings you down, then don’t watch it. You don’t have to listen to the news to be informed. If you feel the need to stay tuned into what’s happening, read the highlights, or set a time limit for how much media you consume each day or week. I don’t have cable TV and never watch the news, and I’m doing great.
2. Take a break from social media. Like the news, social media is rife with negativity. A social media detox will allow your mind to reset, not to mention allow you to spend more time on other things instead. If you can’t avoid using social media (for example, if it’s an essential part of your business), turn off your notifications and limit the amount of time you spend checking your channels. I personally only use social media for my business and restrict the amount of time I spend on it, which helps keep me sane.
3. Purge negative people. Unfriend, unfollow, or block anyone on social media who frequently complains or makes you feel bad about yourself. Distance yourself from anyone who isn’t encouraging, supportive, or motivating to you. If you can’t cut someone from your life altogether, establish healthy boundaries and spend less time with them. You become who you surround yourself with, so spend more time with people who inspire you. I only spend time with people who add value to my life, including my husband, mom, and a few close friends who are positive and uplifting.
4. Do grounding meditations and deep breathing exercises. Spend at least five minutes a day in “quiet time.” Get comfortable, close your eyes, and take deep breaths to calm your anxious mind and body. Visualize yourself connecting to the earth. Feel the positive energy entering your body with each inhalation, and anxious energy leaving your body with each exhalation. If you can’t seem to sit still to meditate, try stepping outside for a few minutes. Soak up the sun and walk barefoot in the grass for the same effect.
5. Get back in touch with nature. Spend at least 10–15 minutes a day outside. Go for a walk or hike, or do an activity outdoors. If the weather or your schedule makes getting outside a challenge, pet your dog or cat for a few minutes each day. If you don’t have any pets, show your neighbor’s pets some love. Petting animals can reduce stress and anxiety, plus it’s fun to do. I have two Pembroke Welsh Corgis who help keep me calm.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Five things we can each do to support each other during uncertain and anxious times include:
1. Have meaningful conversations with friends and family. Find something to talk about other than the news and what’s happening in the world. Ask them how their day/week has been. What are they looking forward to this week/month/year? Get creative and genuinely get to know the people around you.
2. Offer to help someone in need. It’s funny how our problems seem to disappear when we take our eyes off of ourselves. Take food to a neighbor or help out a friend with some chores. You never know who will help you when you need it too.
3. Spread random acts of kindness. Say hello to a stranger. Open the door for someone. Do something generous for no reason. What goes around comes around, so the more you pay it forward, the more peace, joy, and love there will be in the world.
4. Pray for the world at large. Ask for peace and wisdom for those who are suffering. You can also pray for serenity for yourself. If praying’s not your thing, send out positive thoughts, wishes, or intentions to those who need it. Meditation and visualization can also help with this.
5. Only share positive and uplifting content on social media. Examples include inspirational quotes, pretty pictures, and funny memes to lighten the mood. Resist the urge to vent, criticize, or complain. If you must share a problem, be sure to identify the solution too. Leave things on a happy note and offer a word of encouragement to your readers whenever possible.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Journaling can be your best friend. Whether you have a fancy notebook, a pen and a piece of paper, or your phone or computer, start writing. Jot down everything you’re feeling anxious about and why. Identify the root cause if you can, as well as what action step(s) you can take to feel better in the future.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Progress is progress no matter how slow you go.” I don’t remember exactly when or where I first heard this, but it was sometime during my transition of being a work-at-home virtual assistant to becoming an online entrepreneur. It reminded me that I didn’t have to be perfect to be successful and that I didn’t have to overextend myself to see results.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, it would be raising the consciousness of the world. I believe the more people learn how to tap into and trust their intuition, the more they align with their higher self (the best version of themselves), and the more peace, joy, and happiness they will experience. When you fill up your cup, you can pour into others.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!