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“It’s important to understand that our lives unfold in stages.” with Helen Godfrey and Dr. Marina Kostina

First, I think it’s important to understand that our lives unfold in stages. Dr. Donald Super’s Career Development Theory is a helpful starting point to understand these universal life stages. Basically, in our 20’s we are in the exploring stage. It may be hard to feel as though you are living “on purpose” during this […]


First, I think it’s important to understand that our lives unfold in stages. Dr. Donald Super’s Career Development Theory is a helpful starting point to understand these universal life stages. Basically, in our 20’s we are in the exploring stage. It may be hard to feel as though you are living “on purpose” during this time because you are just trying to figure out who you are and what you want. Many of my clients call this their quarter-life crisis and it can absolutely feel that way.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC the founder of www.theauthenticpath.com . Helen is a counselor and has been in the career services industry since 2000. She is dedicated to helping her clients find their authentic path, that is, the path that feels genuine to them in both their professional and personal lives.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a French major from New Mexico. As you can probably imagine, no one was beating down my door begging me to work for them and I had no idea what to do with my degree. I love the French language but didn’t want to teach French. So, I joined the Peace Corps where I lived in a French speaking country for 3 years and taught English for 2 years. My 3rd year, I went through a competitive process and was selected to serve as a liaison between the local government officials, Peace Corps staff and Peace Corps volunteers. It was a contract role so I had to figure out my next step. I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I knew that I really loved learning about cultures so I joined the JET Program(me) where I lived and worked in Japan for 2 years.

That nagging, “What will I do next?” never left my mind. It was very unsettling. Like many people, I asked my friends what I should do. Someone suggested HR so I signed up for a Master of Arts with a focus on both HR and, luckily for me, career counseling. I took one career counseling class and that was it. I finally found my path and the rest is history

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

First, I think it’s important to understand that our lives unfold in stages. Dr. Donald Super’s Career Development Theory is a helpful starting point to understand these universal life stages. Basically, in our 20’s we are in the exploring stage. It may be hard to feel as though you are living “on purpose” during this time because you are just trying to figure out who you are and what you want. Many of my clients call this their quarter-life crisis and it can absolutely feel that way.

I think readers could frame living “on-purpose” during this stage to, “I will commit to learning about myself, observing my likes/dislikes and finding opportunities that will help me understand myself better”. As we progress through our life stages, it can be easier to be more specific about living on-purpose. We know who we are, we know what we want so we can take steps to reach our goals and enlist the help of friends, colleagues, mentors and professionals to help us along the way if needed. If we do feel lost, which we can at any stage, many times during mid-life, it is helpful to recommit to the questions during the exploration stage with a healthy curiosity about the outcome.

Many times, my clients don’t know what they want but they know what they don’t want. Being clear on what you don’t want is a great strategy to get in touch with what you really want. For example, “If I don’t want A, it means that I want…..”. Try breaking this exercise into categories such as such as career, health, finances and relationships. Work through each one in detail. Do you notice any themes coming up? Is there 1 thing you can do today that will get you closer to what you want? I would make your first goal a small goal that it easy to complete and will help you get your momentum going.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful adventures I had as a result of not having a career path and not knowing how to figure it out but it was also very stressful and painful. I thought I should be able to figure it out, and it seemed as though everyone around me expected exactly that. I really didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to start. When I graduated with my degree in French, there was no internet so I had to rely on the local papers to find work and when I wanted to expand my horizons, I had to go to the library to find out of town/state phone books to find companies that might be a good fit. Finding something in the phonebook wasn’t easy. It made it even harder because I had no idea what I was looking for, I was just looking at companies that I didn’t know anything about.

We are so lucky now to have unlimited resources at our fingertips such as LinkedIn but the resources aren’t helpful if you don’t know how to use them. I use career assessment tests to help my clients narrow down their internal motivators quickly so they can verbalize the tasks they love doing. Many times, we don’t realize that there are patterns in the things that make us happy.

For me, through experience, I knew I was a helper but I didn’t know that was actually a motivator and a key element I personally would need to use in order to be happy in my career. I help my clients define their motivators and understand how to explain them by drawing upon their past experience to give examples of their personal definition of these motivators. A satisfying career is a combination our skills, interests, values and motivators utilized in the workplace.

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The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

I think we are busier than ever. We have long commutes, we are rarely unplugged from work and most people I know are working at least 60 hours/week. At the same time, we are trying to balance time among family and friends as well as make time to be actively involved in professional organizations. We are pulled in too many directions. This is a very fast-paced country.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I remember seeing a quote that said, “Be the person you needed when you were younger”. This really had an impact on me and gave me a lot to think about. I have supervised many interns over the years and, at any given time, serve as a mentor to 3–4 people who are new in their career. As a starting point, I give them what I would have needed but, at the same time, I don’t assume they need what I needed. I keep the channel of communication open by having an open door policy and a dialogue about their goals, dreams, challenges and what support looks like to them. I love seeing them progress and get closer to what they want.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Get enough sleep

Experts recommend about 8 hours a night for adults but it can vary depending on the person as well as other variables. For example, if you are stressed, started a new exercise program or are on the verge of getting sick, you may need more sleep. Pay attention to your late night snacking too. Are you actually hungry or tired? It can be hard to slow down with all the stimulation around us, those Netflix shows aren’t going to watch themselves, are they?

It may be helpful to set a bedtime and create a routine around your bedtime. Start getting ready for bed about 30 minutes before your bedtime. Brush, floss, wash your face and start winding down. Make the light more soothing. For example instead of the overhead light, use the light on the nightstand. Try spraying your pillow with some essential oil spray such as lavender. Take some deep breaths. Do some yoga poses. Finally, get into bed and read something inspiring until your bedtime or listen to a guided meditation or relaxing music.

2. Treat yourself

Self-care is an important component of enjoying your day. Sometimes feeling worn out can simply be a sign that we need to take care of ourselves. If you typically get a coffee of the day at Starbucks, why not upgrade to one of the fancy kinds? There are a lot of new, seasonal blends that are fun to try. If there is even one thing you are looking forward to during the day, focus on that. Yes. It can be lunch. In fact, maybe invite a friend or a coworker out to lunch. Go somewhere new.

We can get into habits to be efficient but sometimes these habits can start to feel tedious. If you’ve gotten into the habit of working through lunch, take a break. Take a 15 minute walk in the morning, use 30 minutes of your lunch to take another walk and finally, in the afternoon take another 15 minute walk. If the weather is bad, log-into your Amazon Prime account or YouTube and find a walking video. Yes, it’s a thing.

If you have a big project coming up, reward yourself when you finish it. Our lives are so busy that we don’t usually take time to celebrate our accomplishments. Book a massage. Get a pedi. Go to the movies. Go to happy hour with friends to acknowledge and, dare I suggest, bask in your success.

3. Meditate

Research has shown that meditating provides powerful benefits to our overall health. Don’t try to stop your thoughts. That’s not the point. Observe your thoughts. What keeps coming up for you? Are there some themes? What are these recurring thoughts trying to tell you?

There are many kinds of meditation. Try a guided meditation on YouTube, a mediation with music, a silent meditation….the list goes on. See which ones you like. It may depend on your mood and the issues you are facing at the time.

4. Vision Board

Being stuck in a rut could be a result of not knowing where you are headed or losing sight of your dreams. A vision board may help. For one, it gets your creative juices flowing. Get a pile of magazines, poster board, glue, scissors and start gluing words and pictures of things that you like. Are you drawn towards nature? Beautiful gardens? Pictures of Europe? Healthy foods? All of these can help you find new dreams and new plans.

Did you notice any recurring themes on your board? Pay attention to those. Think about them during your meditations. Are you interested in taking steps to make any of these things happen? What is 1 thing you can do today to get you closer to your dream?

5. Go Somewhere New

A vacation is always nice but if this isn’t feasible, why not try a different grocery store? Or a different coffee shop? Or a different restaurant? Or a different park? Or spending time with a new friend? This can help refresh your mind and remind you that the limited places you find yourself isn’t the whole world. You have choices. In fact, limiting yourself to a 10 mile radius from your home is a choice. What other choices are you making without realizing they are actually choices?

6. Learn Something New

If you need some inspiration, check out Groupon. There are all kinds of classes such as yoga, art, cooking, drawing, painting…you name it. What sounds like fun? You don’t have to commit to it long-term, just take one class and see how you like it. You may discover a new interest and even makes some new friends along the way.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

My favorite topics are self-help, languages and anything about culture. Here are some of my resources.

Podcasts: Coffee Break French, Coffee Break Italian and Ted Talks.

Books: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay; Science of the Mind by Ernest Holmes; The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale; Perfect Phrases for…. (This may seem like a strange choice to list but when you are emotionally involved in a situation, it is helpful to have a phrase book that can guide you. Speaking your truth in a manner that is productive and diplomatic is vital to having joie de vivre.) Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle and Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s hard for me to pick just one because I love quotes. Some of my favorite sources for quotes in general are Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi and Hafez. One of my favorite career related quotes is by Khalil Gibran who said, “When you work, you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.”I just love that. We all have talents and work doesn’t have to be a horrible, painful experience. When we take time to explore and reflect, we can find something that is a good fit and allows us to use our talents in a rewarding way. We spend so much time at work, shouldn’t it be a joyful experience? I personally think it should be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I have a lot of exciting new projects going on. I have an online video workshop where I walk the listeners through an entry level liberal arts resume, line by line, explaining best practices to employ when writing a resume. I think this resume workshop can be helpful for anyone, regardless of major, who wants to write a better resume as an entry level applicant. I am also working resume workshops for career changers and more experienced professionals as well as an online career assessment workshop. In addition, I have some email challenges coming up such as Goals & Resolutions; Living with Purpose; Problem Solving and more. I hope to offer a different email challenge every other month. I am always exploring additional topics for online courses for my clients and love getting their feedback about the types of information they would find helpful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

My movement would center around showing kindness to all. In order to start this movement, I would encourage everyone to 1. work with the public to develop good social skills and empathy and 2. travel. We don’t know our own culture until we live in a different culture. It is helpful for our own personal growth to be exposed to different beliefs and ways of doing things. As humans, we share universal experiences some which we enjoy such as love, fun, humor and others which are more challenging such as, loneliness, anger, and sadness to name a few. Each person, regardless of where they live or their background will more than likely experience these shared emotions at some point in their lives.

A wonderful benefit of being kind is that it has immediate for all involved. It feels good to be nice and little things do matter. Holding the door for someone; a genuine smile; letting someone who has 2 items go in front of you at the grocery store and so on. Every time we interact with someone, we don’t know what they are dealing with so giving everyone the benefit of the doubt is helpful. If you run across someone who is rude, it may be helpful to think to yourself, “I am sure this person is perfectly nice and I just caught him/her on an off day”. Being extra nice to people who aren’t being nice is hard but, deep down, a person who is not being nice is really asking for help. Being extra nice may help that person more than you will ever know.

Thank you, this is very inspiring!

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