This past year, I’ve been sharing stories of the amazing people I have met along my journey to finding a fabulous life.  Lately, some of those stories have come from people I knew long before this journey started.  Tania DeSa is one of those people.  Years ago, our connection was a similar business card.  Today, we share a similar mindset.  This is Tania’s story, and this is what she taught me.

Words of Wisdom

“Take a moment to think about all the things that give you energy and bring you to life, and do more of them.  Do more of the things that bring you to life, because the ripple effect that has is astounding.  It has an impact on others, on what you create, on what you think, and in ways you don’t even know.”

Key Learning

“I learned the difference between doing and being.  I learned that sometimes just being who I am, has impact.”

Definition of Success

“Success is about inspiring others to find their authentic voice and live their individuality.  And, it’s a sense of freedom to do what I want when I want.  I can give myself permission to invest in myself and invest in different areas of my life, because I know that also grows my business.”

When the travel bug bit Tania DeSa five years ago, she never imagined how far it would take her, or how much she would grow personally, before it lead her back home again.  At the time, she was working as a sales representative for a large pharmaceutical company in Canada.  The desire to travel internationally, experience new cultures and meet new people resulted in her decision to apply for an MBA program in Barcelona.  In addition to living in Spain, that experience took her to Switzerland and China, had her meet people from all over the world, and taught her a lot about herself.  After graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a healthcare company out of Zurich.  Although it was challenging at first, as she eventually caught the rhythm of the job and started making a life for herself.  At the time, she had a boyfriend, lots of new friends, a six-figure salary in a management position, and travelled often for both work and personal.

In her words, “Living in Zurich was fabulous, and I thought I was living the life I always dreamed of.  Everything was great.  Until one day I woke up and realized, it’s kinda not.”  Even though it seemed to fit the criteria she was looking for, her job was draining all of her energy, had her feeling “out of whack” and she found herself “emotionally exhausted”.  At one point she speaks of having a sort of out of body experience, and not recognizing herself.  Despite having this awakening, she admits, “I felt like I was another person.  I could witness it.  But I felt like I didn’t really know what to do about it, or how to change my situation.”

Knowing it wouldn’t change unless she did something, she followed a friend’s advice and attended a seminar for life coaches in London, England.  The experience was more than she expected.  As she explains it, “I just walked into the room and knew instantly; these are my people.”  One of the first activities of that seminar had Tania standing up in front of 25 strangers from around the world describing very personal things about herself.  In that exercise, she ended up describing her ideal job.  She didn’t know the title of that job, or the name of the company, however, she was starting to understand what she wanted from her life.  That insight lead to a five month coaching course in Norway, and the inevitable resignation from her company.

Before jumping into her new coaching career, the travel bug bit Tania yet again.  What better way to learn from new cultures, catch up with friends in various countries, and take the time to really get to know herself.  I’m quite impressed when Tania explains her mission statement for the trip.  “I wanted to explore what ‘being’ versus ‘doing’ was for me.”  As I can personally relate, Tania has always been a person that jumped quickly from setting a goal, to achieving the goal, and then onto setting the next goal.  “I was go, go, go, my whole life,” she says.  “And I wanted to know what it would mean to just exist.  What could I learn about myself by simply quieting down and stopping?”

To find out, she took the trip of a lifetime, crossing four continents, passing through 17 countries, and lasting 177 days.  Although some people thought, she was taking an extended vacation, or simply escaping her life, her adventure took on a deeper meaning and would provide insights and guidance for her future.  She went to exotic places like Singapore, Bali, Indonesia, Australia and all over South America.  Along the way, she blogged stories of the incredible people she met.  Inspired by their examples of bravery, love and respect, she coined them her “dream hunter” interviews.  “I learned the power of people, their dreams, and what happens when they declare them.  When you declare your dream, when you share it, it takes on a life,” she reveals.  Sounding a bit dreamlike herself, Tania continues to describe how she danced the nights away in Columbia, celebrated Christmas in Peru and went skydiving in New Zealand.

Reflecting back on the trip, she believes it was all about connection.  Not only did she connect with strangers and friends, but she connected more with herself than she ever thought possible.  It gave her incredible clarity of what she values, what brings her energy, what she feels is her life’s purpose.  That energy rings out as she declares, “I love connecting with people.  I love talking to strangers on buses and in elevators.  I’m that creepy girl that will always talk to strangers just walking down the street.”

Packing her bags and her newfound insight, Tania decided it was time to head back home to connect with her family and friends.  Back home, she launched her coaching business (Amplify Impact), with a mission to work with individuals new to the country or new to an organization, to develop their personal brand so they can communicate their value confidently.  Helping to connect individuals with their purpose, her goal is to amplify the impact they can make.  As she explains it, “I want to help others find their own individual style and ways to connect with themselves and others.  I think by doing that, it can create magic.”

As we discuss the magic in her own life, Tania points out she has the dream job she described in that first coaching seminar, back in London.  That course taught her the importance of digging deep, and doing the self-reflection work to recognize and appreciate the unique value we each bring to the world.  “Coaching made me recognize the importance of having a purpose and a personal mission statement,” she offers.  “Now it’s about living it.  How can I apply this to different parts of my life, and live authentically so I’m actually able to fulfill my purpose?”  Even though she admits it can be challenging she is committed to keeping it top of mind.

Speaking of challenges, I ask Tania what has been the most challenging part of her transformation from corporate sales and marketing to being an entrepreneur and life coach.  More accurately than I’ve ever heard it described, she talks about being unclear on her value.  “Working for an organization, a person’s value is defined by their role and partly their salary,” she explains.  “Outside those parameters, or social frameworks, you have to define why you exist and solidify your purpose.”  When she tells me it used to be “fuzzy” and she didn’t know where it was going to lead, I ask her what has changed.  “I’m now more comfortable with fuzzy”, she says with a laugh.

As our conversation comes to a close, I ask her about her definition of success.  I’m curious to know what has changed for Tania since her corporate days and MBA training.  She explains how she used to see herself in a suit, making a big salary, having all the perks and leading people in a corporate environment.  Now, it seems to be more about giving than getting.  She wants to inspire others to find their authentic voice and live their individuality, while keeping freedom in her life to travel and do the things she loves.  She sums it up nicely by saying, “I still want to be successful in traditional terms, but I’ve become so confident in my purpose and the value it can bring, I believe that will make me successful.”  Although I can tell Tania’s journey of self-discovery and her world adventures, are far from over, it sounds to me like she’s already found a pretty fabulous life!

To Learn more about Tania’s adventures and her coaching services, follow her on Twitter @passionigniter or visit her website at www.taniadesa.com.

Her dream hunter interviews can be found on her blog at www.theglobalsponge.com