Freedom Mindset

2018 Recap: The Year of Relinquishing Control & Personal Experiments (oh, and a burnout!)

With Lydia Lee

Completing the year with a deep reflection is a practice I have loved doing as my last blog every year.

It’s also the scariest thing I get to write because it reveals my weaknesses and vulnerabilities that a high achiever like me can sometimes be afraid to be transparent about.

Last year, I recapped my 2017 experience here and had some deep learnings for what I wanted to experience in my next chapter in 2018.

2018 was a year of experiments of challenging myself to grow my business into the next chapter, and most importantly, challenging myself to play bigger in my personal and professional life.

The new changes started with building a bigger team and relinquishing control from being the only one that’s valuable in the business.

Gosh, that was hard.

For anyone that’s like me who’s always been a do-er, it’s probably been hard for you to ask for help, communicate for support, and not put your hands into every pot on the stove.

Learning how to lead others is even more necessary because the doing all the things can certainly lead to not having anymore fun and feeling the pressure of ‘performing’ all the time.

As I learned to be a better leader this year, I’ve also learned a lot about my role in my business.  What I need to do, and what I think I had to do.

Without further ado, here’s behind the scenes of what I experienced in 2018, and the biggest learnings I received.  I hope some of it resonates with you 🙂

It ended with a Burnout 😲

I’ve told you that 2018 was a year of experimentation for me. In a way, I knew that a lot of what I was creating and doing was a ‘test’.  

From delivering programs in formats that were different from before, to hiring a team, and stepping back from being the sole ‘do-er’ in the business, this year really challenged my breaking of old habits to be a control freak and someone that needs to dip her hands in everything to get it perfect.

Part of me was so afraid to do things ‘differently’.  I’ve had massive success in running my business in previous years, but it was at a cost.  Though the numbers indicated ‘success’, my wellbeing took a toll. I worked more than ever to achieve those numbers,

As a high functioning high achiever, I’m prone to not experiencing the symptoms of burnout until it literally takes me out.   I even spoke about this in depth with fellow burnout survivor, Danny Lim, in this honest conversation here.

The moment that instigated my escape from the cubicle 5 years ago was fueled by an emotional breakdown during a business trip in Russia.  It was the motivation of pain and hitting ground bottom that made me change my life.

It’s funny.  Sometimes you can change big aspects of your life, like move to a tropical Balinese paradise, build a pretty successful business, and STILL fall into the clammy hands of the burnout monster.

The one thing in charge that can lead us to experience unhappiness, unhealthiness, and imbalance is still ourselves.

In the last quarter of 2018, after flying back to Bali from spending the summer in Vancouver, something odd happened that I hadn’t felt in my business since I started it 5 years ago.  


Dreading to create the strategy for the new year.

Dreading to write the next blog post.

Dreading to give instructions to my team for our next chapter.

Dreading to open my emails.

Dreading to start my day with work (THIS was super scary – How could I, the person whose business represented the creation of great work for people hate her work right now?  Of course I felt like a fucking fraud…)

One thing that I still loved, despite feeling like shit about the future plans of my work at Screw The Cubicle were coaching time with my clients.  Somehow solving OTHER people’s problems and momentarily distracting myself from my own discontentment totally helped.

The gift of helping can be quite the teacher sometimes.  The momentary escape from my own shit helped me to put a pin in my woes, and put on a different hat to be of service to someone else.  In return, as I gave a fresh perspective and coached my clients, who too, were experiencing burnout in their corporate careers, I noticed all the things I was saying should’ve been said to myself in the mirror.

Just like the burnout stories and misaligned actions from corporate escapees  I work with transitioning from the traditional life, these were the main issues causing my disconnection…

Can you relate to any of this?

Rolling around in the sticky mud of immense shame when I ‘failed’

As someone who prides herself in envisioning the details for the future and executing on a plan, I was also a victim of my own high expectations and threw a self-critical party when things didn’t go my way.

Realizing I no longer wanted to do what I was used to doing to make money

For me, I didn’t want to approach certain topics I coached on the same way anymore, and I needed to take time to reflect on where I’ve grown to in body of work.  I no longer wanted to be only known for ‘the girl who helps people quit their job’, but to hone in what the message of ‘Screw The Cubicle’ really meant – radical life changes in the way we approach our lives, our work, and our relationships.  I’ll tell you more about this at the end of this blog post.

Having a lack of ‘inspired’ action with lots of “I should” vs. “I want to”

In the dream to ‘scale’ and grow in my business, I implemented strategies that did indeed change my business, but perhaps not in a way that were aligned with my true intentions.  I lost sight momentarily on what was important to me, like writing and speaking about topics that may not always LEAD to a paid product, but were meaningful for me to talk about anyways.  I fell into the trap of doing something that wasn’t aligned with me just because someone said to me, “You need to produce more content that is clickworthy”.

Thinking I have to ‘grow’ like other people around my industry and comparing my success to my peers

I lost track of how I wanted to grow in MY unique way.  I felt the ‘fear of missing out’ when I saw others grow bigger in their businesses and thought I’ll be left behind.  I found myself saying, “What the hell are all these fancy marketing bells and whistles these online superstars are implementing and why have I been hiding under a rock in Bali?”

In order to diagnose what was contributing to my feelings of unmotivation, disillusionment, and the worst one…apathy, I had to ask myself these two questions:

What feels flat and unmotivating?

What feels easy and energizing?

Which brings me to my biggest insights and learnings for 2018…

Lesson #1:  The money doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel good

In our constant chase to have more money, more opportunities, and more assets, it can be easy to get lost in the hamster wheel of the money chase.

Hell, of all people, I know this.  My previous corporate career had high promises being made partner, a six-figure salary, and a fancy title to boot.  

But at a cost of my health and wellbeing.

If the pathway to making that dolla dolla bill is misaligned with our values, strengths, or purpose, there’s no amount of money that’s going to give us the deep satisfaction and fulfillment we require to keep doing great work.

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ and comparing ourselves to others’ lives as a benchmark is a surefire way to end up feeling unaccomplished and depressed.

We feel the pressures of societal expectations, passive-aggressive nudges from parents to opt for a particular degree, and from our respective peers who post photos of their ridiculously awesome vacation home in the Bahamas while we may be barely making ends meet with our own mortgage payments.

What I’ve also realized is that even when you’ve ‘escaped’ the cubicle life and suburbia existence, you can STILL be keeping up with those darn Joneses fuckers.  

Except now it’s that digital marketer that tells you to invest in FB ads or you’ll bite the dust, or if you didn’t have a fancy branded Instagram channel, you’ll never be noticed.

With the access to so many people’s ‘private’ lives through our fingertips, social media can play a huge part in making us feel like we need to take on other people’s way of doing things to feel like we too are on the right track.

In Srini Rao’s article on how our use of social media fuels our comparison, envy, anxiety, and depression, he says:

“Our addiction to social media leads us to prioritize resume values instead of eulogy values. It causes us to value clicks over character, eyeballs over hearts, and attention over affection.”

In my efforts to grow my business this year, I was certainly influenced by what my peers were launching or building in their business, or how they were getting attention in their work.

Though at times it’s been lovely to be inspired by what innovative things people were implementing, I wished I was more discerning in what I incorporated into my business.

I wished I questioned whether a particular strategy or business technique was truly aligned with my core values rather than it only being a ‘good strategic business decision’.  

I had to remember why it was so exciting to be an entrepreneur.  The biggest freedom I got to have was the freedom to express myself creatively and the freedom to choose how I WANT to make a living.

It reminded me of a different time in my life where I was unconsciously ‘doing’ and chasing a particular number in my bank account, even though what was actually being experienced in my life to get to that number was actually making me exhausted, anxious, and unhealthy.

That same mentality during my corporate worker bee days are far behind me, but at times, that mindset can creep in again – masked under the desire to earn more in my business and the search for financial freedom.

What I’ve learned is this:  Ultimately, even if I hit the revenue goals and make great money, but the way I earned it doesn’t simply FEEL good, what’s the point?

Lesson #2:  Defining what’s ENOUGH is important to our wellbeing

I learned that truly understanding my own definition of success and happiness are so important to my mental health.

Because people are going to tell you that you need more.  More revenue. More fans. More people on your email list.  More contacts. More square footage for your home.

When I speak to some of my coaching clients who are Wall Street investment bankers to 20 year veteran lawyers, they’ll express how hard it is to give up a ‘sure thing’ or stress over not having ‘enough money’, even when they have a profitable Airbnb investment home that brings in $5,000/month to be able to fund them if they adjusted some of their lifestyle choices.

They still can’t seem to ‘feel’ safe to leave an exhausting and unfulfilling career.  They’ll make up all sorts of reasons to keep waiting out on the promised bonus they’re supposed to get next year, or the comforts of the cushy salary they bring in every month.

They created self-imposed pressures from the belief they NEEDED to have that bigger house in case they had children or the expensive boat they bought last year that cost them an arm and a leg to dock.

The unconscious self-imposed pressures were definitely brought into my own life when I was believing I too, NEEDED more.  

It didn’t come in a way of a fancy boat or a mansion to house the oodles of children I may or may not have, but it was the notion that I wasn’t going to be a responsible adult or business owner unless I was constantly amping up my profits and building a bigger business.

However, if I was being honest with myself, I simply didn’t want to have a big business at all.  I quite liked working with contractors vs. full-time employees. I prefered intimate ways of working with small groups and one-to-one clients.  I didn’t necessarily want to be Oprah big.  What if being a small business and boutique brand was enough?

Adapting to a practice of Minimalism in a more serious capacity (rather than just listening passively to podcasts or reading books on minimalism) and applying it to how I lived my life has been a journey to release myself from these self-imposed pressures that can cause me heart palpitations at 3am.

Minimalism isn’t about being a hippie tree hugger and living in the woods without any access to modern fixings.  Though all power to you if that’s what you want!

Minimalism is to live within your definition of what’s enough in your life.  

What’s enough to give you YOUR version of happiness,if you weren’t trying to please anyone else or prove something to others.

Josh and Ryan from The Minimalists (check out their podcast, it’s the bomb) speaks about minimalism in a lovely way:

“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

Here’s what I realized was actually ENOUGH for me in defining a great life aligned with my core values:

  • Being able to slow-paced travel, and have a more laid-back lifestyle
  • Having simple pleasures in life, like a quiet afternoon reading a book or listening to music by a body of water
  • Spending quality time with the people I love in my life
  • Creating and sharing meaningful things in the world, as I grow as a person
  • Contributing to human transformation work and having impact on issues I care about
  • Supporting people in creating a life of deep meaning and fulfillment (because happy people do more for the planet) 

This led me to remember these two important things:  

I value time over money, and I don’t need to make oodles of money to have the type of lifestyle I want.

This released me from the pressure of having ‘more’, and to focus more on what was actually necessary to maintain my version of happiness in the lifestyle choices I was making.

On a personal level, it meant things like…

  • Consciously spending on things that are truly valuable to me (i.e. not spending just because I can, but on what’s truly important)
  • Deciding to make time for only a handful of close friends I truly enjoyed spending time with, instead of allowing my schedule to be filled with meeting new people just because I felt bad saying ‘no’
  • Living within my means – choosing to live in a cottage I’m slowly renovating rather than splurging on a brand new villa with a pool

On a business level, it meant things like…

  • Deciding to facilitate only small intimate groups instead of larger numbers of coaching student because I know my impact will be stronger to individuals
  • Saying ‘no’ to business opportunities that seem lucrative but wasn’t exactly going to bring me the joyful experiences I wanted to have in my work
  • Spending more one-to-one time with clients between calls and classes for free to help support them to move forward in their goals (and not resenting this because it was in alignment with my work values) 

All micro decisions lead to a destination

These micro-decisions we make every single day can either help us get closer to the life and work experience we want to have, that version of enoughness and success that’s right for us, or it isn’t.

Your newsfeed is filled with people’s versions of success and them telling how successful they are (cue cheesy Facebook ad about how some dude made six figures in six months and how he can teach you to do it too).

If you don’t define success, other people will define it for you.

To gain perspective on what’s really important to you, ask yourself this question:

When I lie on my deathbed, what would make me think my time was well spent?

Will you be happy with your life if you adventured in every corner of the world?  

Will you feel fulfilled that you helped people along the way in your life?  

Will you be deeply satisfied that you earned a lot of money to leave your family a large inheritance?

Whatever your answer is, only you will know what is true for you.

How will you define YOUR version of ENOUGHNESS?

Lesson #3:  Different is better than better

As an advocate for self-expression and personal creativity, I have always encouraged my coaching clients to show up in their business in their most authentic way possible.

If they were introverts and sensitive, they can leverage their quiet power to lead instead of thinking they need to shout from the rooftops.

If they were deep thinkers and valued in-depth research when they write, they can produce a longer form piece of content rather than mass production of short articles for keyword sake.

If they were funny as fuck, they can incorporate comedy and use that vibe in the way they influence and market their business.

In my own mission to make more money and grow my business this year, I can sometimes fall into the trap of working ‘harder’ to be better than the competition.  

To offer more in my programs to give better value.  To give even more options to work with me and exhausting myself to offer a better client experience.

But, better isn’t always the best solution.  It can keep us constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling overwhelmed by whether we’re doing the RIGHT things.

What if being the best is not about being better?  

What if your personal best is based on your unique difference?

This was something I definitely needed to remember this year in my business growth –  where can I leverage the unique Lydia advantage and special sauce only I can bring?

One of my most hardworking clients this year, Ella Cook, who quit her job this year (woo-hoo!) and started a new life and business from Bali, helped me to gain insight of what makes ME special and unique in front of my customers’ eyes.

She performed in-depth interview calls with them and these were the responses:

  • Lydia’s no bullshit approach to ‘tell it like it is’
  • Lydia’s unique strength of skills spotting and finding my genius zone
  • How accessible Lydia is, and working with her feels personal and intimate
  • Lydia’s relatable background story

It was such a great reminder that my difference was how I creatively expressed myself, my unique perspective on problems I’m passionate to solve, and my personal style of communicating to the people I serve.

This difference that my clients experienced with my work with them was how I am at my BEST.  I don’t have to try harder, or be better than my competitors. I simply needed to remember what comes naturally and authentic to me.

As you are creating and growing your business, perhaps you too, are trying to find that competitive edge and difference that helps people to notice your brand.  

Here’s a reminder of how the world sees you, and the importance of knowing your advantage to fascinate the people you draw to your business:

Different is better than better. Different doesn’t try to turn you into something else. Different allows you to highlight the singular traits you already have within you. You aren’t necessarily better than your competition. But you are already different.”

– Sally Hogshead, author of How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination

If you can identify your personal advantage on how you can be different, harness it, and apply it to the way you work, create, or give in your business, you will achieve YOUR best work.  

And then, there will be no reason to envy others’ version of achievement.

As Sally Hogshead says, “Stop trying to be THE best. Start being YOUR best”.

Can we say a collective amen to that?

Lesson #4:  Intimacy isn’t meant to be automated

Last year, one of my biggest learnings about building a great business one customer at a time was this:  

Give people the most powerful conversation they’ve ever had.

This was my favourite takeaway from one of my favourite books on building a profitable and sustainable coaching business is The Prosperous Coach, by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler.

One of the long-term practices I still adhere to every single year is the dedication of time I give to prospective customers, existing coaching clients, partners, and collaborators.

Relationships are one of the strongest pillars of my values in life and business.  To honour this value, I have still continued to offer in-depth complimentary discovery calls to people to give them that very powerful conversation I stand for.

Another cool thing I’ve implemented this year that’s done bi-weekly is to send personal voice messages to business partners, collaborators, and awesome work friends that I admire and love.  

By scheduling these two personal touches into my calendar that repeats every 2 weeks, I never forget about my commitment to nurture relationships and build real connections that are so important to me.

Being able to ask my clients and business collaborators how much I can support their work and continue to be part of their world allows me to leverage my strength of intimacy (see Lesson #3 above of honouring my difference)!

Which brings me to this other piece that absolutely still applies to what was my biggest learning in 2018…

You can’t automate or outsource intimacy if you want to keep the passion alive in your work.

What I figured out this year after hiring digital strategists, social media specialists, and copywriters is that ultimately my voice is strongest when it’s being expressed by ME.

This doesn’t mean that hiring specialists is a bad idea – I still very much believe that as business owners, we need the knowledge and brains of people who can do certain things better than we do it.

However, when it’s completely left up to other people to showcase your voice and create conversations day-to-day, as a business owner, you’ll start to become disconnected from your tribe and community.

From what I’ve learned this year, a balance and a blend of using specialists and continuing to PARTICIPATE in conversations through social media and emails can be effective to scale effort, but also keep your finger on the pulse on what your audience needs from you.

When I was less involved in the day-to-day conversations on my Youtube channel and FB page, I found that I was losing touch with those special conversations I loved having.  

I was less sparked up in identifying new creative topics for my next video, and it took a bit more brain juice to instinctively create valuable content that I felt validated to produce.

No wonder one of the pieces that contributed to my own burnout in my last quarter was feeling disconnected with the passionate work I started!

I am committed to going back to what I used to do more of…live streaming more often on my daily musings, and creating longer and more meaningful posts vs. outsourcing large quantities of posts ‘just in case’ the FB algorithm doesn’t show it to enough people.

As a personal brand, where my story matters and my unique voice cannot be duplicated, I’ve learned that some things cannot be automated or outsourced.  

For my sake, and my audience’s sake.

In a world where people are talking to Facebook bots and being sold a ‘paint by numbers’ formula to get to their success, do something different.  

Stand out from the crowd by offering intimacy and a personal touch.  

Stop hiding behind marketing strategies that don’t really connect you authentically with your customers.

What can you do more of that gives your customer’s an intimate experience and a touch of personal attention?

Perhaps it’s sending a handwritten note whenever a new client signs up.  Or featuring their work to support their projects. Or sending a short video instead of a typed up email.  Or connecting them to a person who could be a great collaborator or partner.

I promise your tribe will love you for it, and feel special (the way you want them to!).

Lesson #5:  Every piece of content should lead to RESONANCE

As a digital business, creating great content has been a big part of being seen in my work and found by global clients.

When I thought about creating a bigger community and connect with even more people in the world, I had set a big goal to amp up content creation in my social media and prioritize audience outreach activities like showing up on podcast interviews and summits.

The question I get asked a lot whenever I’m getting prepared to be interviewed is:  “What offer do you want us to promote for you during the interview?”

I found myself all of a sudden wanting to change the stories I wanted to tell on the interview or the angle I would’ve initially shared to try to ‘sell’ something.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with promoting your work.  But, when we try to angle everything we say or create out there in the ‘world wide web’ to generate the only intention of ‘creating a sale’, we fail to amplify the genuine message we want to share behind our work.

Whenever I’ve asked new coaching clients why they decided to work with me, they don’t say it’s because my offer was the only offer they’ve ever seen that could help them.  They mention how they resonate with my life story – my corporate burnout moment, the struggle experienced as a child of immigrants, or the perceived mid[life crisis I thought I was having when I quit my job.

Naturally, they gravitate to peruse my website to find out I have programs that can help them.  Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they never hire me at all, but they do tell a friend who then, hires me.

This brought me to another big lesson I learned this year:  

The content we put out there to influence people should lead to resonance, not a sale.

When we share information, education, and resources to our audience, we need to have a sense of responsibility for what we share.

I know you too, have seen some of these ‘questionable’ social posts or Instagram shots from ‘influencers’ who peddle how easy it is to make money while you sleep or how you’ll need to download a ‘secret formula’ to brand your Instagram channel to make money as a social media influencer.

They lay in a hammock with their cool shots of a laptop, and everything just seems so easy if you just grabbed their fast hack formula for a low price.

The reality is, very likely none of these people were an overnight success.  But it isn’t as sexy to talk about the grunt work of late nights, years of struggling, and how long it took them to get that one big shot of them doing a yoga pose in the middle of the ocean on a surfboard, right?

However, it is absolutely what the world needs.

Less unrealistic expectations.  Less blanket statements that tease no hard work is required.  Less ‘don’t you wish you can have my life’ guilt trips.

More truth tellers.  More unsexy stories of success.  More real talk. More transparency of the real work.

One of my most favourite people on the planet, who I genuinely believe does GREAT work and truly cares about the people and ideas she nurtures is Pam Slim.

You’ll know from reading my 2017 recap blog last year that hiring her as my personal coach has given me such new perspective on building a great body of work.

She doesn’t just ‘say’ she supports women of colour and advocates for social justice, she ACTS on this.  Her blogs, social posts, and even her business venture of opening up a community based leadership development lab that supports and strengthens the work of diverse entrepreneurs showcases her commitment to creating resources, tools, and education to the people she serves.

One of the biggest learnings I took away from my intimate coaching day with Pam this summer is the importance of not ‘selling the dream’, but to do the real work necessary to support people to achieve their goals.

And lead them through the uncomfortable, unsexy at times, challenging, and sticky parts of doing that work together.

This means less DIY and automated programs I know people will buy and just never look at again, but more ‘roll up my sleeve’ hands-on work that involves me personally in their growth.

Which brings me to my final big learning for 2018 (and forever to be honest)…

We need more Thought Leadership, not more Influencers.

In a world where anyone can be an Instagram star and post inspiring quotes to trigger an emotional response, we need more people to be go-to resources in their field of expertise.

To be an authority not only because they’re ‘passionate’ about the subject, but because they’re invested in mastering their craft, to humbly keep learning, and take the time to educate their audience to do things better (not to just envy their lives).

That requires a level of transparency and vulnerability that at times, doesn’t look sexy at all.

It isn’t just the success stories, but the failures it took to get somewhere.  A real tool that can be used to provide insight, instead of a trickery downloadable thing that only gives you half the answer (I call this a ‘trickster carrot stick’).

As we think about influencing people with our work, the big question is:  

What are you influencing people to do exactly?

A question I am asking myself more and more, anytime I’m tempted to post a cool shot of secret beach I found or when someone tells me I should be sharing more of my ‘life’ on Instagram.

This article by Elinor Cohen on why influencers don’t influence anything, and why a focus on thought leadership is the key is an AWESOME read.

However, what I’m SO excited about is this year has brought me tons of clients that I am proud to support!  There are so many people coming out to start great projects and business initiatives that truly impact some of the big issues we face in the world.

Here are some of the awesome superstars I get to call clients this year, who are creating some amazing work in the world!

This is the courageous work Jen is creating with Trauma Queen, dedicated to creating a revolution to change the way we converse and support ourselves and others experiencing trauma. What a great example of using transparency and vulnerability to share ideas that matter
After years of slaving in a corporate role that left her feeling disconnected from her creativity and gifts, Ina is dedicating her work to help regain the balance in mind + body for high achievers who want to do big things without sacrificing their health – amen! Her ability to help people define their version of success in her coaching business is incredible
Leigh is using her 30 years of knowledge and expertise in the health industry to transform mid-life women to live their healthiest life with self care, nutrition, and healthier body image. Her business, A Fit Lean Life, has some amazing resources to living a life that allows us to show up fully and energetically for ourselves and others.
Sophia’s mission with her work to help women leaders thrive in the workplace was birthed from her own dissatisfaction of trying to prove herself in male-dominated industries. Now, she brings her passion to empower women to Lead Through Happiness, where being a great leader means embracing your unique leadership qualities and honouring your strengths

There are so many more client projects I would love to feature here because they kick massive ass!  You can see our features of them on my community FB page here when we share it all monthly, and I hope you get inspired by them as much as I do 🙂

What’s in store for me and Screw The Cubicle in 2019?

It’ll be 5 years since I started my blog, Screw The Cubicle, with the inaugural intention of it being an online journal where I documented my ‘identity crisis’ after leaving corporate life and finding my footing in the unknown world of freelancing and entrepreneurship.

In the many years that’s passed,  I’ve since moved from a personal blog to a coaching business, and there have been a whole lotta changes as I step into my growth as a human.

As I hit the next chapter of my work and creative expression, a big word comes to mind for 2019…


At times, I had squirmed at the thought of reinventing my brand and work. Did it mean I was going to start from scratch again and go in a completely different direction?

What I’ve come to realize is that to do our best work, we have to continuously reinvent ourselves.  We grow into the ideas we started with. We expand into our next chapter of expression.

We can let certain things die to allow bigger things to be birthed.

Work changes, and that’s OK.  

As I too, encourage my clients to repurpose their gifts to start meaningful businesses, the message is the same for me:  

Listen to the instincts that call you to do bigger things.

And this is why I’m giving myself permission to explore + reinvent as I go.  I may have some big ideas of how 2019 may pan out, but to also leave space to receive sparks of inspiration to shift gears when they come.

My purpose, ideas, and perspective has expanded as I’ve done so much work supporting others to be brave to take their leap to their next big thing.

To summarize, here’s what I can share to the definitions that fuel my motivation to create experiences and learning environments that impact the issues I care about.

I wrote this as part of my Screw The Cubicle Reinvention project on Asana to help me organize my ideas for the new year 🙂

Here’s what I defined in what is behind the message of Screw The Cubicle that is beyond just quitting your 9-5 job:

Screw Work as Usual

How do we reinvent work to be meaningful and contribute to causes and missions we care about?  

How can people be inspired and educated that ‘work’ doesn’t have to be a dirty word?  What will I do to support and be a sherpa to a more liberating path where people can make a living independent of corporate chains in the future of work?

This will continue in my core work for helping talented people start small businesses and connect them with communities and tools to create work that matter.

You can come join me in my virtual and live learning experiences to reinvent your work life to suit the lifestyle choices you want to have.

Screw Life as Usual

How do we live unconventionally to be free of societal expectations by redefining our own version of success, and reconstruct what a happy life looks like for us on our own terms?  

How can we collectively help each other to be brave to live how we want to live vs. what we think we have to do?

I’ve been more and more interested in bringing new knowledge on location independent families, alternative education, co-creating communities, and minimalist lifestyles.  

My new book comes out in 2019 and will feature real stories of real people that have challenged the status quo to create a lifestyle beyond traditional norms.  This has been a deeply loved project I’ve been working on for the last two years and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Screw Security as Usual

How do we gain a sense of ‘security’ out of the confinements of what we’ve been educated on when it comes to pensions, investments, and job security?  

I’m committed to share learnings on being smart with money (the lack of education around money management in our society is appalling, and it’s the biggest fear most people have), being employable under any circumstance (so we are less dependent on ‘jobs’), and new ideas on creating security in our lives.

I’ll be inviting more insightful experts to join me on conversations on my blog to give valuable knowledge in areas I’m no expert in, but I know are so important to arm you with knowledge to take responsibility for your own life.  For now, you can check out past interviews I’ve done with money experts + nomadic families on my Cubicle Escape Stories segment in my Youtube channel.

Screw Routines as Usual

How do we take moment to have an important pause in the midst of our busy schedules to take the sabbaticals we need to recalibrate and reflect on what we need in our lives?

If there’s one thing I know for sure in any transition from corporate burnout and to reconnect with what makes us happy, it’s the importance of having time and space to receive this deep reflection.

As with my own journey, the ability to gain fresh life perspective, challenging our comfort zones, and questioning our beliefs that have gotten us stuck in a hamster wheel, is a gift we owe ourselves.

More and more, I am called to host more experiences that can give people a chance to take a sabbatical.

Through new places, inspiring environments, and creative space outside of ‘familiar territory’, we can find ourselves without the day-to-day distractions.

I’m proud to continue to lead purpose-driven people to create work that matters, and a personalized roadmap to leave their 9-5 existence in Your Next Big Thing retreat in Bali.

I’ve added a second retreat for small business owners who want to turn off the ego-centered demands of ‘business’ ,and reconnect with their purpose, themselves, and friends who are doing the same.  We adventure in Bali and create big visions together at the Amplify Retreat.

Phew, that was a long post!  But super cathartic to share this with you 🙂

Did any of you resonate with you?  Perhaps you may have had some similar insights as I did?

If you’ve taken the time to get ALL the way down here, please say hello in the comments below, and share with me your own personal insights from your reflection of your 2019 🙂

Here’s to embracing reinvention and meaningful changes in the new year.  I hope to see you as part of our community as always.

Till our next adventures together!


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13 thoughts on “2018 Recap: The Year of Relinquishing Control & Personal Experiments (oh, and a burnout!)”

  1. Is it even possible to adore you more than I already do? Apparently, YES!

    FANKEOW for this EPIC blow-by-blow rundown. So excited about new possibilities for your new chapter, new inventions, and new ways of screwing things that no longer work! So thankful for you, Lydia!

    And thanks so much for including me in your year end round up!

    • Such heartwarming compliments from the one and only bunny of a Dan 😉 I’m so excited for expansion and reinventions as well, for the both of us! I’ve loved seeing the AH-MAZING work and love you put into your purpose, and YOU inspire me all the time to hone my creativity. Thank you for being the kindest and one of the most passionate people I have ever got to work with. To more cackles and hugs in the new year 🙂

  2. Love following your journey. You are my go-to when I need help getting focused or inspired. When I feel myself getting lost in the hype of branding, competing, and achieving, I can usually get back on track by turning my attention towards minimalism, conservation, nature, and creativity. All the best in 2019! Thanks for everything. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading, Eva! I’m so touched that I’ve helped you in a small way to refocused and be resparked in inspiration when you’ve needed it 🙂 I SO agree on the power of minimalism and nature to keep life simple and free. I’m giving you a big hug for a tremendous upcoming year for your creative ventures 🙂

  3. Lydia! I love all of this. You’re so honest and reflective and transparent….it’s inspiring. I’m proud of you for seeing past the material things and someone’s else definition of success to create a life that is EVEN MORE aligned with who you really are. Sending you so much love from the US. *muah*

    • Amber, I’m so happy you found it honest and transparent. It’s always so good to share the good, the bad, and the ugly

      I’m sure you’ve had quite a year to reflect on as well, and I can’t wait to see your round-up of it!

      Hope to see your smiling face back in the tropics sometime soon. Big sweaty hugs from Bali! xx

  4. You are a tiger Lydia.

    Great read. To see your vulnerability adds further qualities to your wisdom and work.

    This (last) year, I’ve had a burnout myself. We all have our reasons how we get ourselves in this state, but I’ve noticed something and it resonated with what I read in your post too – for me it was the amazing feeling, that while I did not know how to deal with my issues myself, I was more than willing and able to see a bright light at the end of the tunnel of people I spoke to, who had VERY similar issues as mine. Sharing my thoughts helped them to see they are not alone. My understanding for their situation was always appreciated and I was able to see myself from a perspective – from their perspective as I was telling them about my story. And when you put things in a perspective, it is SO much easier to deal with stuff.

    Thank you for sharing. I will always be appreciative to what you are doing and how you helped me in my life with “Screw the cubicle” workshop. I am still sailing in the rough sea, but I’ve been to places I would never have seen if I stayed at the shore.

    Much love,

    Zee x

    • Hey Zee! I’m so happy to see your face and that you took the time to read this 🙂 I’ve missed seeing your big ass smile and those big squeezes you give! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a burnout too, but I loved hearing that you were able to be such a support to others going through a similiar situation. It’s always so much easier to solve other people’s problems when we’re not as emotionally attached to it, huh? 🙂 Burnout and high functioning depression (something I’ve been talking about A LOT to some of my ultra successful clients but SUPER unhappy humans) are definitely topics we need to converse about openly more often.

      I’m so honoured to have been a part of your inaugural journey to trek your own path – you were a gem to work with. I loved what you’ve said – “I am still sailing in the rough sea, but I’ve been to places I would never have seen if I stayed at the shore.” – BEAUTIFUL!

  5. Lydia, thank you so much for this transparent, authentic, real and loving blog post! This is YOU in every single word of the post!
    Thank you for always believing in me, for bringing out the best part of me and creating aha-moments, for taking me out of my comfortzone, for being patient with me and for giving me that nudge and push!
    Here’s to an awesome 2019! Big hug and kiss, Sophia

  6. Hi Lydia!
    Loved this post and can feel both resonance and inspiration! Thank you for taking the time to write and share your great insights. I almost feel like I need to write notes of all the insights I got from this post bc there were so many! 🙂
    Thanks for this fantastic year, thank you for your support and inspiration! I’m very much looking forward to see what we both achieve in 2019!
    Lots of love, gratitude and high fives! xx

  7. I’ve noticed a real change among the coaches and thought leaders that I follow in the last few weeks. While some marketers are still banging on about formulas and sales funnels and shit like that, the ones I actually trust are now recommending AGAINST automation, or following formulas, and trying to be perfect. Which is great because it’s bringing humanity back into business. And I’ve seen a lot of leaders pivot into either offering new services, or entering entirely new arenas altogether. I find that really exciting. Because if THESE people can admit they want to do something new, or try out different things, then it’s okay for me to do that too. Instead of following a one-size-fits-all program that promises a six-figure lifestyle in six months (but leaves you too burned out to enjoy it), it’s okay to figure out how to have a creative life without having to do it the way everyone else does. That scratches my itch for innovation in a way that no amount of silver bullet webinars can!

  8. Great article, really inspiring and felt very personal. Your story felt like mine and it’s super relatable . I have yet to start up a business for myself and get things going. Before all of that there’s a lot of figuring out to do to see what my niche is. Thanks again for the call, I can really feel the effort/thought you put into each call when you’re being really present with who you speak to.

    Keep it up Lydia, your stuff is very personable and it really makes others want to be your friend and not just work with you professionally. 🙂

  9. Resonates with me on all level, but specifically on the “being employable under any circumstance (so we are less dependent on ‘jobs’), and new ideas on creating security in our lives.” – that one is bullseye!

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