Make sure you end up on your calendar. I mean this literally. We need to make ourselves a priority so that we rate enough to end up on our calendars. Most of us are going through life and doing what we need to do to survive but a vast majority of us are struggling to thrive. A big part of that is because we are no longer prioritizing ourselves. We have a million reasons why our goals and wishes can’t end up on our calendar- i.e. my clients need me, my family needs me, my spouse needs me. But where are you in this? I am here to tell you loud and clear that by making yourself a priority you will not only thrive but you will be more available to everyone else in your life.
For my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Samantha Hiotakis, a Mindset Coach and Lifestyle Strategist. She draws on 15 years of clinical psychology experience to help successful individuals take action in the one area they tend to put off: their own goals and desires. Dr. Hiotakis enjoys spending time with her family in their New York home.
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 struggled with two very difficult health issues in 2008 and 2015. During both it became clear how powerful my mindset and lifestyle were in shifting my perspective and outcomes. Specifically, it was my mindset, optimism, discipline, and laser focus that empowered me to face both medical issues head on and not give up. These experiences and what I learned, prompted me to leverage my own journey and belief system to help others. I took this one step further and shifted my professional career from a psychologist to a Mindset Coach and Lifestyle Strategist.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
Living on purpose is living with intention and this is the cornerstone of my belief system. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. How we approach and use those twenty-four hours is widely varied. For myself, I intentionally choose to live on purpose each day. This is powerful. Like everyone else, I could easily get overwhelmed with the day to day of life and shift into automatic pilot. Yet, I harness the power of choice over my thoughts and actions, so that I can be sure to make the most of each day. The easiest way to do this is to make an effort to be aware of your thoughts. Simply by being aware you are actively engaging in your thought process and in turn you are an active participant in your life.
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?
In 2008, when a routine surgery brought with it unexpected complications, I was forced to stop. I was left unable to work for months as my body was struggling to recover. I had two choices to make in that very scary time. Crumble and let life happen to me or sit up and take control. I chose the latter. I may not have been able to control what my body was doing but I could control my thoughts and my approach to what I was going through. During that time, I embraced the one thing I’d overlooked: mindset and lifestyle.
Had I not adopted this perspective about mindset and lifestyle, the next issue would have felt insurmountable. In 2015, I was told that I was unable to have children. I allowed myself time to process what I was told and then I chose. I chose to rise. I chose to harness my mindset and I delved further into my lifestyle. I consistently shifted my mindset from a place of lack and impossibility to a place of possibility and surplus. Within two years, I was pregnant naturally at the age of 42 and nine months later I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I believe my mindset and core belief system empowered me to keep going in the face of doubt.
Navigating through these experiences taught me so much and I wanted to share my strategy, mindset shifts and belief system to help other people through my coaching.
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?
This does not surprise me. In the United States we take no pride in someone taking time out or doing something for themselves that does not equate to a paycheck or an achievement. We are working longer hours and harder than ever. We feel the need to constantly be available to our clients and employers. Social media has us feeling the need to be constantly engaging with our friends and family on those platforms. In all of this, where is our downtime? It’s as if we are on a treadmill that won’t stop. Where is the time for each individual to focus on their own personal wants and needs? It doesn’t exist. When we think about doing something for ourselves we are often burdened with a list of a million other things that need to get done first. The vicious cycle has begun. We have lost ourselves in our lives. We are barely surviving and we clearly are not thriving. We need to start focusing more on mindset, lifestyle and giving ourselves permission to be a priority.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? I use my belief system and training, at any opportunity I can, to impact someone’s life in a positive way. It can be a casual conversation with a colleague, a deep conversation with a friend or an off the cuff conversation with a stranger. It doesn’t matter. The principles are the same. I help people shift their perspective, mindset, lifestyle and belief system. I know in my heart that my approach to living is not only powerful but it reaps incredible rewards. Most recently, I launched an online coaching company so that I can help and work with as many people as possible.
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?
- Set the intention for your day: The first thing I do each morning is set an intention for my day and how I want my day to go. This sets the tone. Setting an intention removes you from the autopilot state of living and puts you back in the driver’s seat. There is a paperweight on my night stand which states, Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn. This is so simple, yet so profound. If we approach our day in a state of frustration, boredom, or autopilot then our day will unfold exactly as such. However, if we shift and consciously choose to approach our day with a smile our day has already started with an advantage.
- Choose what you focus on. One of the most powerful things we have is our thoughts. We are in control of we focus on. Over the course of a day our mind will be flooded with thousands of thoughts. We need to choose to filter out the negative thoughts-the noise- and choose to focus on our positive thoughts. This causes our perspective to shift. I believe we need to workout our thought process just like we workout our muscles and cardiovascular system. I’ve adopted a very simple five-minute gratitude practice for this exercise using the Five Minute Journal app. This app provides questions which can help to get my mind to think and shift in ways that sometimes I can’t. Once I start answering the questions my thoughts have shifted to a positive state.
- Make sure you end up on your calendar. I mean this literally. We need to make ourselves a priority so that we rate enough to end up on our calendars. Most of us are going through life and doing what we need to do to survive but a vast majority of us are struggling to thrive. A big part of that is because we are no longer prioritizing ourselves. We have a million reasons why our goals and wishes can’t end up on our calendar- i.e. my clients need me, my family needs me, my spouse needs me. But where are you in this? I am here to tell you loud and clear that by making yourself a priority you will not only thrive but you will be more available to everyone else in your life.
- Now is only temporary and each day is a clean slate. There are only 24 hours in a day and these 24 hours will soon be behind you. Tomorrow literally is a new day- a clean slate. I love the idea that no matter what today holds it’s temporary. No two days are exactly the same and you never know what opportunity will present itself, what person will show up, or how a difficult situation can be turned on its head. Being stuck is an illusion. This thing that is weighing heavily on us does not define who we are. A perfect example from my own life is when I went from not being pregnant to the moment I found out I was pregnant. My life reads before that moment and after that moment. What kept me moving forward during my fertility struggle was the true belief that I never truly knew what tomorrow held in store for me.
- Remember we only have one life to live. I remind myself of this often. It is my life to live. Not anyone else’s. People will be there to lean on and to support me if I need them to, but in the end it is my life to either live with exuberance or not. I only get one shot at this life. I can either make it the best life I have ever dreamed of living or I can sit on the sidelines and watch it pass me by. If I need help to do so than it is up to me to ask. I personally love to set incredible goals and wishes. I figure I have nothing to lose by reaching for the best life has to offer.
- Never stop dreaming and wishing. Live with the heart and belief of a child and the tools of an adult. I constantly set new wishes and goals for myself. This ensures that I am engaged and present in my life to the fullest. The simple but powerful I exercise I do, and have done for years, is to create a list in my Notes app on my iPhone and title it with the year (i.e. 2019 Wish list). I list out everything I want to do and accomplish that year, no matter how far a reach. This gives me hope and gusto. I check back in every now and then and am surprised to see how much on the list I have accomplished. By putting it down and writing it out, I made it real.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
Absolutely! I love You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein and Happiness Now by Robert Holden, Ph.D.
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?
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.-Randy Pausch. This quote resounds with me every day. I believe and think anything is possible and I know this way of thinking has opened doors, opportunities and life experiences. My mindset is always in a state of believing in my ability to do something. I can’t express enough how powerful this is once you start.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have launched my new online business as a Mindset Coach and Lifestyle Strategist. The online platform allows me to meet people where they are and I can reach many more people as I am not geographically restricted to whom can get to my office. I am also writing a book highlighting my belief system and the steps to take, so that everyone can have access to what I practice. I truly believe that I can help anyone shift their perspective.
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. 🙂
I believe people need to do two things. The first is they need to give themselves permission to prioritize themselves. There should be no guilt here. I believe it is a matter of survival and by doing so you are nourishing yourself from within. The second is I want people to understand the power of their thoughts. This is an incredible gift we have. By actively engaging in your thoughts and practicing this daily you can shift not only your mindset but your life.