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Throughout my  lifetime, I’ve always tried to be polite, respectful, and kind. I think most people share these same basic principles. However, when these virtues are misconstrued into political correctness and people pleasing, we face wicked consequences. When we’re preoccupied with worry about what other people will think or say about us, we can’t fully be ourselves. We desperately try to fit into the mold we believe is expected of us. We conform. We compromise. We hide our true personality and character or we reveal just a little bit to see if we’ll be accepted or rejected before letting it all hang out. Our fear keeps us from being REAL….but what are we truly afraid of? We fear OFFENDING someone and this is the #1 fear that keeps us from being real, telling the truth about who we are, and living an authentic life. 


There’s absolutely no point in fearing that you will offend someone, because it is an absolute given that YOU WILL. (Yes, you heard me right. You have a 100% chance of offending someone). How can I have such certainty about this? Because we live in a society filled with entitlement, judgment, criticism, and hypersensitivity that results in people becoming offended for no other reason than they WANT TO be offended. Let me tell you a story about how I’ve experienced this in my own life:


About a year ago, I had a job opening for a massage therapist so I advertised the position in various places. I reviewed national databases listing licensed therapists in the local area and shared the job posting with them by email to help spread the word about the opportunity. It seemed reasonable to me that they might like to know about professional opportunities to either consider for themselves or to share with someone who might be interested. I’ve always been of the thought that the more you know, the better off you are, and if the content isn’t useful, all you gotta do is delete it.


I was incredibly surprised when I opened my email the next day and received this message from a local massage therapist who had received my job posting, “Your position would be wonderful if I was new to the massage field, but I'm not. I have worked extremely hard to get where I am today, and have no intentions on giving up my business to work for you! I would never think to share job opportunities with your staff and I would expect the same professional courtesy from you.” What I thought was an innocent, even nice thing to do, was perceived negatively by this individual and she was clearly offended. 


It was in that moment that I realized no matter what I say, do, believe, or feel, someone will perceive it in a negative way and become OFFENDED. The other thing I learned from this experience was that what other people say and do is about THEM; not me. This woman’s response was completely about her own previous experiences, expectations, beliefs, and perceptions and had very little, if anything, to do with me or the information I sent.


The goal toward living authentically, being your true self, and speaking with your own voice doesn’t include CONQUERING your fear of offending others. It’s about prioritizing sharing your true character with the world ABOVE the fear you have. The fear will always be there, no matter what. Even as I write this, I can see the shadow of fear on my shoulder and hear it’s voice saying, “Don’t write that. It’s not going to go over well. You don’t want to expose yourself too much and have someone be upset with you for it.” But being myself supersedes that fear because the alternative to being authentic is so much worse than the fear of offending someone. The alternative is living a lie, being phony, being a copycat, or walking around on eggshells all the time. No thank you to that. 


So, how can YOU rise above the fear of offending others and be real? Here are a few steps you can take right now:

  1. Always rank your own opinion higher than everyone else’s. 

Your opinion is the one you have to live with and it will always be more constant and consistent than the opinion of other’s. Other people can change their mind for no reason what so ever (other than just wanting to). It’s helpful to consider other people’s opinions because having feedback provides good insight. However, when it comes right down to it, your opinion is the only one that matters. 


2. Don’t take anything personally. 

What other people say and do is because of THEM; not you. Learning that we all have “response-ability”, or the ability to choose how we respond, will help you to only take responsibility for how you react to certain situations, rather than blaming yourself for how other people react to you. 


3. Always do your best.

Your best is your best and there’s nothing more to give than that. Keep in mind though that your best will look different when you’re sick, tired, and stressed as compared to when you’re healthy, rested, and relaxed. Give yourself permission to have “your best” look different. By always doing your best, you’ll naturally let your unique strengths, talents, abilities, and creativity shine through (which is the whole point). 


4. Remember you are one of a kind but you won’t be for everyone.

No one else in the world is like you, nor can anyone do what you can do in the exact same way you do it. You are one of a kind and the world needs that special gift only you can give. There will be so many people who love and appreciate you just as you are, but you won’t be for everyone. There will be people out there who just won’t get you, appreciate your quirks, or like what you have to offer. AND THAT’S OK! You don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea. Differences are what makes the world fascinating, interesting, exciting, and bold rather than boring, mundane, and bland. 


Now is the time to go out in the world, claim your power, and create a magical life, and the only way to do it is by being REAL. Always be your true self, no matter what. No matter what other people think about it or say about it, you are you for a reason. Embrace your authentic self, speak your voice, and share your creativity with the world….without letting the fear of offending someone take hold of you. 





Nicole C. Iacovoni, Founder & Executive Clinician of Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from The University of Denver. Utilizing scientific based techniques, she is masterful at helping clients navigate and address family transitions, mood management, relationship issues, life trajectory, and general self care concerns. She also provides financial management coaching to help clients break down the psychological and emotional barriers to maximizing their earning potential, managing money effectively, and building true wealth.  



You’ve heard it a million times.  “THIS is the year I will lose those last few pounds and keep it off!  THIS time I will stick to it, have more willpower, and follow through.”  So, millions of people this time of year will scour the bookstores and internet for the highest rated, trendiest eating guides hot off the press with promises of enduring success.  The before and after pictures you see are regular people, just like you.  You say to yourself: this will work.  THIS is my answer.


Wake up call!  THIS is not the answer and if you do lose the weight, more often than not you will gain it back and possibly more.  Alas, transforming your body takes some creative insight, humility, patience, and let’s face it, the courage to address the source of the imbalance that is showing up in your body as extra weight, fatigue, lack of motivation, depression, pain, and more.   


Making a transformation can be overwhelming and scary.  Finding a starting point is key so begin by following these 5 easy steps to get you off on the right foot.  You may not lose twenty pounds in the first month, but creating a solid foundation is more important than rapid weight loss at the beginning.  Think of it as giving your body a mental and physical tune-up before a long trip so that when temptation hits, you will be more likely to stick with the changes you’ve implemented.  

  1. Stop dieting.                                                                                                                                                   Remove the word from your vocabulary starting today.  The more restrictive you are, the more you will crave that very thing.  Instead, switch to a “way of eating.”  This will change your beliefs right off the bat about the changes you are about embark on and how successful you will be.  There is no one way of eating that will work for everyone and the only requirement to finding that way of eating is openness and curiosity about your relationship with food and how it affects you mentally, physically, and spiritually.    

  2.   Set “bigger than self” intentions.                                                                                                            Kelly McGontgal, a PhD from Stanford University, introduced the importance of these sort of intentions.  She suggests growing your intentions so they go beyond you.  For example, transform “I want to lose weight and eat healthy” to “I want to create long lean muscle and flexibility in my lower back and hips to reduce my debilitating pain which will allow me to be more patient with my family.”  Looking below the surface goal is crucial to maintaining change because we are highly motivated by our connections with others and this creates more accountability.                                                                                

  3.   Relearn how to listen to your body.                                                                                                       When we were babies, all we did was listen to our bodies.  We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and eliminated when we needed to eliminate.  Then came the bills, jobs, families, and STRESS so we began to ignore our basic needs to meet the everyday demands of life.  The best way to relearn how to listen to your body: get back to basics just like a baby.  Eat what you want, when you want, sleep when you are tired, and move when you want to move.  What?  Give in?  Yes.  Give your body what it wants and it will find it’s way back to health.  Go ahead, have a day of eating crap and lying on the couch.  That may be just what you need, but it won’t last long because crap doesn’t make you feel good and it will lose it’s appeal when you tell yourself you can have whatever, whenever.  Experiment and learn about what works best for you.  You may need to keep eating meat and dairy because you feel sluggish or depleted when you don’t or you may need to eliminate dairy because it causes you GI distress.  Decide based on your own findings in your own body, not what someone across the globe thinks will work for everyone.                                                                                                                             

  4.   Eliminate the crap.                                                                                                                                  Get rid of the artificial chemicalized “food product” filling the grocery stores today.  They do not support your body and the millions of chemical reactions that need to take place to make physiological changes.  Eat closer to nature by selecting whole foods.  If you are unfamiliar with what a whole food is, it is simply a food that contains one ingredient.  They are ingredients, nothing else added.  For foods with more than one ingredient, try to stick to the “5 ingredients or less” rule.  That being said, you don’t need to eat 100% organic, vegan, raw, or gluten-free to make progress.  Find the gray area.  It’s not about perfection.  It’s about learning what makes you feel amazing.                                

  5. Move with purpose.                                                                                                                                    While you are at it, throw out the word exercise as well!  The word exercise is not typically associated with being inspired, motivated, and energized.  Again, find the gray area.  Pick something you like to do that requires moving your body.  It may be walking, skating, skiing, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, and so on.  It’s important that you choose an activity that turns you on and lights you up.  If you hate running (like me), don’t pick that because it won’t last.  Find something you want to study and perfect.  A project.                                                                                                                                                          Last requirement: sweat.  Moving and sweating means you are detoxing and losing weight is a form of detox.  You’ve got to unlock the toxins that are hanging on for dear life in your tissues, knock them loose, and eliminate them.  Moving, in conjunction with eating nutrient dense food is the best way to do this.  


Yes, there are other things you can eventually add to your fitness routine to amp things up a bit, but START SMALL.  It’s easy to get excited and get in over your head setting yourself up for failure.  Fight the urge to see instant results.  Any lasting change takes time and patience so coming from a place of love towards yourself is so important.  Our bodies don’t like to be forced into anything so take some time to explore what yours is trying to tell you, give it what it truly wants, and celebrate small successes!  


I believe in the power of choice and we all have choices, regardless of how much money you have, what your status is, or who you know.  You can always find a starting point so think about what that means for you.  What do you want?  What does that look like and how are you going to get there?  My goal is to empower others to approach making changes in an alternative way using mindfulness, a clear vision, and a concrete action plan.  We are here to help if you need guidance or share this with a friend and start on your own!  Make 2016 your most amazing year yet!  




I LOVE ringing in the New Year. It always feels like a fresh start, a clean slate, and the perfect opportunity to change directions and get on the right course. This is the time of year when I typically set a ton of goals for myself about what I’m going to accomplish throughout the year.


I’m a big dreamer, so my goals are always many and very lofty. Historically, in January and February, I’d be on fire, tackling to-do’s left and right. But come March, April, May, things would slow down, I would slack off, and by the end of the year, I’d look at my goals and wonder what the hell happened. Can you relate?


I had so much motivation and desire, so it took me awhile to figure out why I wasn’t accomplishing what I set out to. Then I had an A-ha! moment where it became clear what stands in the way of achieving our desires and how to maneuver around those obstacles and get shit done. I’m about to share that with you now. There are 4 reasons why we don’t reach our goals:

  1. We don’t prioritize in writing.

Ideas are just ideas unless you feed them with your attention and action. We often have a mind full of good intentions, but if we aren’t writing them down and putting in order what is the most and least important, we don’t really have a clue about where to start or what to invest our energy in. The result is not investing our energy in anything, or wasting time and effort on crap that isn’t that important to us. 


2. If it ain’t scheduled, it ain’t happenin’. 

So, let’s say you have a master to-do list. Let’s even say you kicked reason #1 in the ass and you’ve prioritized your goals. The chances of marking everything off your list is slim if you haven’t put each task in a planner or calendar. If it isn’t scheduled, it’s incredibly difficult to hold ourselves accountable for making progress on our goals and we tend to forget what we wanted to do and when we wanted to have it done by. 


3. We put off what we’re least excited about.

Ever notice how you don’t mind springing out of bed first thing in the morning for a cup of coffee but you can’t seem to keep that same bounce in your step when going to the gym? Our brains are always seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain, so if any of your goals aren’t necessarily pleasant, you’re going to avoid them like the plague…and you’re going to put them off until the last minute or not do them at all. 


4. We lose motivation when we don’t see instant results.

We are immediate gratification creatures. We want what we want and we want it NOW! When we start to feel like a project is taking us too long to finish, we get discouraged, lose confidence, and our motivation goes in the toilet. When it comes to really big, worthwhile goals, the key to success is usually consistency and hard work, which in many ways, contradicts our desire for immediate results. Our lack of motivation can get us to stop what we’re working before we even really get started. 


So, the bad news is that failure to reach our goals is fairly common, but the good news is there are 4 things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to start getting shit done and finally accomplish your dreams. 

  1. Write out your WEEKLY priorities.

Identify the step-by-step tasks you need to work on to reach your overall goal. This will help you breakdown the big outcome into smaller, more realistic bits. Pick out the order in which the tasks need completed and schedule them at various times during your week. This helps you to always be mindful of what’s most important to you and keeps you accountable for making time in your week to get it done. 


2. Front-load your day.

Because we are naturally inclined to avoid jobs that aren’t that exciting to us, it’s important to schedule those “not so great” jobs at the beginning of the day. Just get them over and done right from the start so you aren’t wasting energy on worrying about them all day. When you tackle a shitty job right out of the gate, you instantly feel a sense of accomplishment, which can propel you into the other items on your agenda. 


3. Overestimate how long it will take to complete a goal.

People often underestimate how long it will take to finish a project or complete a job. Call it wishful thinking or inaccurate estimating, the truth is that this glitch in our minds leads us to get easily frustrated, discouraged, and simply give up because it’s too much work or it’s taking too damn long. But if you set your mind, right from the start, that it’s going to take longer than you expect, you’re more likely to feel like you finish quicker. You’re also more likely to stick with it until the job is done. 


4. Celebrate (small) successes.

The trouble with goals is that when we reach them, we set new goals to work on, so it can feel like we never really get to the place we want to be. We just keep working and pushing forward to achieve and accomplish more. This isn’t all bad, but if we do this without celebrating the successes along the way, no matter how small they may seem, we will lose motivation and throw in the towel. By giving yourself even a little pat on the back for taking another step in the direction of your dreams, you’ll be honoring your hard work and dedication while sparking your motivation to keep at it. 


I hope this insight inspires you to reach for the stars in 2016 by setting goals in alignment with your heart’s desires and that these tips will help you to be successful in achieving all of them.


You have the power to create a magical life-claim your power and put these four simple principles into practice! 


If you found this helpful, please share with a friend so they too can have the life of their dreams!


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