Do you have a tendency to go nonstop from one thing to the next, without taking a moment to pause?
If so, I bet you might not feel very successful or fulfilled about what you achieve, no matter how impressive it might look on the outside.
Which is why this episode is dedicated to two essential practices — learning and celebration.
In this episode, Nicole reflects on 2023 and the lessons it taught her. She reveals what it took to trust her intuition while navigating some major financial challenges and upleveling her relationship with herself.
Make sure to listen to her top 8 lessons that shaped this year, and then take some time for yourself to reflect on your 2023 so next year can become the year where you deepen your own relationship to self-worth and intuition.
“Hands down, you will never have a better friend than your own intuition. I have spent years, decades at this point, honing my muscle of intuition. And not only honing it, but building it, strengthening it so that it is strong and available for me always.”
“So if you’ve ever wondered how I keep pursuing the goals that I do, I have to say that celebration is one of the foundational pieces that is truly part of my life. And it’s not just like an occasional thing. I actually make it as part of the fabric of my existence.”
“Self-worth is the foundation of being able to live the life that you love, to actually really having that purpose and joy in your life, and it really starts from understanding that self-worth is the flex.”
“I really lean into celebration every single day…I spent so much of my life being hard on myself, and I have come to the conclusion that I’m just not interested in living life that way anymore. I’m not interested in listening to that voice that tells me I’m doing things wrong or poorly or that I need to do it better.”
“When I think about growth, I’ve always been in that place where my growth was always very focused on my career. Where can I go to the next level as a yoga teacher? Where can I go to the next level as a journalist? But in the last few years, I have to say my deepest and most important growth has been in relationship. It has come in realizing how important relationships really are and how much it requires, how much effort it requires on my part to prioritize them.”
Welcome to the School of Self-Worth, a podcast for ambitious women who know they are worthy of an astoundingly great life. Join us weekly as we get on the right side of your intuition, redefine success, and reclaim your self-worth. I’m your host, Nicole Tsong, an award-winning journalist who left it all behind to become a bestselling author of three books and work/life balance expert, helping ambitious women unlock their intuition and step into a life of fulfilment and radical joy. Every single week, I will bring you diverse and meaningful conversations with successful women from all walks of life who share insight about what it takes to be brave, joyful, and authentic every day. Every episode is thoughtfully designed to leave you feeling empowered with tangible tips and advice that will lead you to your next breakthrough.
Hello friends. Welcome back to the School of Self-Worth. I am your host, Nicole Tsong. I wanted to do something a little different to close out my first year on the podcast. I really love taking time at the end of the year to look back to see what happened, to understand the arc of my year. While I usually do this in private, a journey I share with my closest people, I decided this year to share it with all of you as a thank you for being part of this really epic journey in the first year of the School of Self-Worth.
It has been a tremendously big year and I’m excited to share what I saw, and I hope you get something for yourself as well before I get started. If you are a high-achieving career woman who wants to quit her job and keep her salary while still cutting back on hours for work in 2024, dm me New Year on Instagram at Nicole Tsong and let’s chat. Okay, are you ready to hear the eight major things I figured out in 2023? Let’s do this!
This was a really big year for me on probably the most obvious of levels. In 2023, I got married to my husband, Michael. We did that in April and as you can imagine, that was a really big part of the year. And I have to say, at the beginning of the year, I don’t think I thought much past it. It was so consuming, it was so big that I really was like, oh, “Once we get through April and once we’re married, everything is smooth sailing.” And of course, there were still eight more months of the year to look at after that, and that’s where really, I would say a lot of the challenge for myself came about.
I would say that this was a year which was truly a roller coaster, like with the highest of highs and some pretty big lows. I made some major pivots in my business. I invested in myself in a much higher level, and I had some challenges that totally came out of the blue this year. I really also had moments where I thought, “This life cannot get any better than it is right now”. I am a person who is always looking to grow, to expand, and to see where I can continue to up-level myself, and I do that through reflection. So this year’s reflection is simply that. It’s about the lessons I gleaned from the highs, from the lows, and from all of the many mundane moments I also had in-between those.
Without further ado, I’m going to dive right into this conversation. Lesson one. This won’t come as a huge surprise to any of you who’ve been following me for a while, and yet, it was reinforced over and over and over again this year, that your intuition is your best friend. Hands down, you will never have a better friend than your own intuition. I have spent years, decades at this point, honing my muscle of intuition. And not only honing it, but building it, strengthening it so that it is strong and available for me always. Just like for the many years I was doing yoga, when I would do the practice of yoga, I could be in the room and I wasn’t shaking, and my muscles were so strong and so steady in a plank, because I had done it for so long, and that’s really how I think of my intuition for myself at this point. When you are strong in something, you can still obviously get really tested by it.
So let’s talk first about getting married. When you are having a wedding, there are so many decisions that come into play. There’s so many dynamics of people that come into play when you decide to get married and invite people to your wedding. Deciding venues, deciding what to wear, who to invite, navigating people, dynamics. Investing huge amounts of money in a single weekend, all of it, honestly, can feel super overwhelming. I felt overwhelmed, I would say, at many points during that planning process, and we did it in about six months.
But this time, I also went in really clear on the notion that nobody else needed to be involved in any of the decisions of the wedding, except for me and Michael. And that was how all decisions were made. I really put my intuition to the test. I just listened to myself, and I trusted myself all along the way. And I have to say, it was the best choice ever I could make for a wedding. Nobody else was involved. I made all the choices, and it made it so much easier. So that was one of the big tests of my intuition, and I will say it led to a really dreamy, amazing event. I’m going to share a little bit more about another lesson I had from that experience later. I wanted to dip in there because intuition really did lead me in that wedding planning process.
Another major test of my intuition, and some of you have heard about this, when I had a very last minute change to the venue for the retreat I was leading on the big island in Hawaii in September. Six days before I was set to start the retreat with really incredible women who were traveling from around the country to take an entire week of their lives off to work on themselves, to dig deeper, and to really clear negative internal programming that was keeping them from pursuing their dreams, I got the news that I might need to change my venue. Any of you out there who are leaders or have had experiences like leading or booking a place, you might know that this was really not the best news to receive. I was very challenged in the way that I received the news because I didn’t receive it from the venue. That first day felt very challenged in terms of what is there for me to do.
I really had to learn and lean into my leadership in a totally different level than I ever had before. I also had to lean into my intuition in a totally different way than I ever have before. It was, I would say, in five years of business, perhaps the biggest challenge I have ever faced. And in that time, I had to really lean into my trust, into my intuition. All the years I’ve spent building my intuition to say, “Okay, Nicole, it is going to be okay, it’s going to work. You will still have this retreat. It will still work out for everyone. It will still be a seamless experience as much as possible”.
And it was! We found a new venue the next day. They were amazing. We had an incredible experience. And I have to say that leading that week was also one of the best business experiences, leadership experiences, I have ever had. The location, the big island experience, being out in this tropical, beautiful plush place, the work that we were doing there was so expansive in this energy activator. So I have to say that I was so proud of the way that I leaned into intuition, trusted it completely to guide me through to the other side, and I will always and forever talk about how important intuition is, because it is 100% how I lead my life.
This year gave me so many examples. I’ve given you two, and I could give you a million more of how intuition has brought me to exactly where I need to be in my life right now. So your intuition is your best friend. Don’t ever forget that.
Lesson two. This one is something I’ve had to also really learn over the years. And this lesson has really helped me so much this year, which is: celebrate everything, like, everything in your life. I spent most of my life telling myself I was failing, even when on the surface, and according to other people, they might say, “Oh, Nicole is succeeding, she’s doing all these cool things in her life.” But I would be so, so hard on myself. I would consider myself a failure. I would criticize my choices. I compared myself constantly to other people, and they say your brain needs something like six positive thoughts for every negative one. I really have leaned super hard into celebration, in my life. I focus constantly on what is working.
If I find myself spending too much time in criticism or negative self-talk, I make the switch right away. I do it from moments where I feel challenged: In my business, which happen constantly. As an entrepreneur, there are micro challenges and major challenges. I just shared that one about Hawaii, and that was a major challenge. And I also have constant daily challenges, so I really lean into celebration every single day. This is a practice that I also have in my personal life. I do it when I feel challenged in my marriage, I do it when I feel challenged of how I feel about my body. I do it when I feel challenged in the next goal that I’m trying to reach again. I spent so much of my life being hard on myself, and I have come to the conclusion that I’m just not interested in living life that way anymore. I’m not interested in listening to that voice that tells me I’m doing things wrong or poorly or that I need to do it better. Now this is distinct from growth and expansion. I used to think that the negative voice inspired me to grow, but all it did was push me to try to compensate for that negative voice. Whereas celebration helps my energy, it helps me settle, it helps me feel more grounded in my body. Once I feel all of those things, then I can legitimately say, “Okay, now I’m going to challenge myself to something that my heart really desires.” And I feel confident and clear that I will be okay. Even if I fail, even if I make a mistake, it’s not going to matter because I can celebrate myself. So it is important. It’s such an essential practice to really understand that constant celebration.
So if you’ve ever wondered how I keep pursuing the goals that I do, I have to say that celebration is one of the foundational pieces that is truly part of my life. And it’s not just like an occasional thing. I actually make it as part of the fabric of my existence and the way that I really look at my life. And this year, I can see how much celebration helped me when times were challenging, when times were really hard. And it’s not something I have to say that comes easily to most of us because we have such a strong negativity bias. It’s just how your brain is wired. But if you can take on the work to rewire the way your brain looks at the world, it is a thing that will truly move the needle. To have the life that you’re seeking, to have the life where you’re working less, where you have more time for yourself, and you are actually in work that feels fulfilling and purposeful.
Let’s go into lesson number three. Man, this one is a constant lesson for me because I have always been an achiever. I have always been someone who loves goals and ambition and to try to do the next big thing. So this lesson is that achievement is never more important than the people you love. I’m in my third career now. Most of you know this, but I was a journalist, and then I was a yoga teacher, and now I’m an entrepreneur, and I’ve also thrown an author in there. So maybe I could say I’m in a fourth career and I’m on my second marriage. So I can tell you, I actually really love to work.
I really enjoy work. I enjoy getting things done. I enjoy being in my purpose. I enjoy supporting people. That’s a big part of my work, contributing to others. And I’m always reaching for the next level. When I think about growth, I’ve always been in that place where my growth was always very focused on my career. Where can I go to the next level as a yoga teacher? Where can I go to the next level as a journalist? But in the last few years, I have to say my deepest and most important growth has been in relationships. It has come in realizing how important relationships really are and how much it requires, how much effort it requires on my part to prioritize them. And I can tell you that work is totally awesome. I still love work. I’ve done a lot of really cool things. I have a podcast now, and the things that I do are really, truly fulfilling, and I refuse to give up my real life for work, and when I say real life, I mean all the things actually outside of work, because the things that actually matter most in my life are the things that I do when I’m not working.
My husband, my dog, my family, my friends, my community, taking care of my body, doing things that bring me joy, traveling, reading books, all of those things. Those are the things that are my real life. I don’t want to be at the end of my life or even at the end of a week, let’s be honest, where I feel like I put more effort into work than I put into the people that I love. I am proud that this year I really did make space and time for family and for loved ones, and that every single day I prioritized myself and I put my relationships above this feeling of needing to work so much. And I have to say, I did it by not letting achievement be the c that I am doing. I really was able to separate out from myself, me, the human, from the things that I do, like my job.
On to lesson four, speaking of work, this one has been a very hard-earned lesson and one that I continue to live into. Working less is the key to loving your life more.
Like I said, I like work, so I’m not here to be in a world where I don’t work at all. I actually think that I would not be that satisfied, and I would not be fulfilling my own purpose if I wasn’t working. But I also know the less I work, the more I enjoy the work that I am doing. I am a total creature of structure, and I have found over the years that the more I’m able to build structure into my day, the more I thrive and the more I do well. I’m more creative in my work. I am more able to produce a lot, and so I do better with structure, I run my own business, so I do get to set my own hours. I can promise you, from knowing a lot of entrepreneurs and people who own their own businesses, it is super easy to overwork as an entrepreneur.
I know so many entrepreneurs who put in really heavy work weeks, and your business is your baby, it’s your livelihood. It’s very easy to get attached, but I made the decision actually last year to stop working every day at 4:00 p.m. I’ve made a lot of decisions over time, over my schedule and how I run it. I don’t take meetings before 8:30. I typically don’t take meetings in the morning almost at all if I can avoid it, because that’s my creative time. I have a 90 minute lunch break every day. I stop working at 4:00 p.m. most days. And I have to tell you, these decisions aren’t necessarily easy in the real world of how do I fit in my clients, how do I fit in the work that I’m doing and creating things like this podcast, how do I have space for all of that? When I made the decision to stop working at 4:00 p.m., it felt almost impossible. But there was a really good reason for it – I wanted to start taking yoga classes and going to gym classes that were at 4:30 p.m., and I knew that I would be a better human if I was able to do that. For me, that 4:30 p.m. time is like an important transition into my evening to really letting go of work and just being back into myself. So once I started doing it and I made that decision, while it felt very challenging for the first month to make the adjustment, once I decided to do it, it actually just also started to happen.
Now I know from that experience, whenever I make a decision like that, that it will work. It actually will work. It will actually happen. And I have to say, I love it. I love being able to go to yoga in the evenings. I love having more space and time for myself. I feel like I have put the correct amount of energy into myself and into my job. It’s actually balanced, and I feel more rejuvenated, and I feel more present to make dinner, be with my husband, all of those things at night, and to have time on the weekends to do things with people that I love. So my goals are really big for 2024, which I will get to at another podcast, at another point. I’m looking to work less in 2024. I am really looking to cut my hours again and to really create more enjoyment of my life outside of work, and then the time that I am working to feel really prime and in a really powerful way. So working less is the key to loving your life more.
Okay, lesson number five, I love this one. This one might be my favorite on the list because it just speaks to the people that I work with. So this one, my lesson is elevating others, elevates everybody. I’ve had the great fortune to be able to contribute to really incredible women through my coaching work, of course, and I really love sharing the stories. You’ve heard from some of them on the podcast, but the ones you don’t hear about pretty much almost ever at all, unless you’re one of my clients, are my team. I am supported by some really smart, powerful women, and they are a huge reason I can do the amount of work that I do. I have incredible assistants who make my life easier every single day. They take care of so many details, so I can focus on the big picture. They are really good at sending me reminders to make sure that I am on track. Seriously, thank you all, Jeannie and Jenni, for all the reminders. I have really incredible friends and coaches who step in to support my energy work, and also my mastermind clients and Casey, Chelsea, you’re all seriously the best. They do so much for me, not only in the work context, they make sure I’m supported on weekends, that I lead my clients, but they also make sure I’m on track when my life feels like it’s going off the rails or it’s feeling a little extra challenging to be human.
I also want to give a really special shout out today to my podcast producer, Julia, who is behind the scenes, especially at the School of Self-Worth, creating everything that you see. She has been so instrumental to getting this podcast off the ground, and growing and expanding, and I think she is just so phenomenal. She does such amazing work here. This podcast has totally been her baby from the very beginning, and right now, at this moment, she is off in life with her actual, real, second baby, and she is so incredible. She has made it possible for this podcast to keep running smoothly and seamlessly, so that you’re going to keep getting episodes, every week, while she is gone. That is amazing, and so powerful and so celebratory, and I am so proud of her, she has done such incredible work on this podcast, it literally would not be here without her. I just want to celebrate her and send you so much love, Julia, when you’re listening to this, as she expands her family and really prioritizes the things that she needs to during this big transitional time in her life.
So elevating others, right, when we are able to contribute and elevate others, that is truly when we elevate everybody together..
Lesson number six is about our favorite topic, self-worth, which is really what this podcast is about, and this lesson is like the never-ending lesson, but I definitely saw it in a different way in 2023. Self-worth is a flex. Now, this isn’t exactly what you think. It’s not like, ”Oh yeah, duh, duh, it’s a flex to have self-worth”. Of course it is, but releasing your negative programming that says you’re not enough for this life?! Are you kidding? Who doesn’t want that? Of course we want that, but the flex is that it is literally a flex. Like, you have to do some serious reps to maintain your self-worth, and I have had to do some serious reps this year for my own self-worth. I faced some massive challenges that I’ve shared a little bit about, financially in particular this year, investing in a wedding, investing in my business, and then also really flexing this understanding and insight and knowing that my worth and value is not attached to the number in the bank. This has been a very interesting place for me to work and to play this year, and really flexing into this idea of having done all this work on my self-worth in relationship, my career and my businesses. Also for me, this year in particular, it’s been around finances and knowing that having my own worth and value is the key to having abundance in life and to having wealth in my life, and I’ve had to really flex on it in that arena. And then, let’s be honest, I’m still working on it.
In particular in relationship and especially getting married, being vulnerable comes from a strong sense of self-worth, and for me, I have had to really work on that continuously as our relationship grows and expands. To be able to be vulnerable, to share, to really let Michael see me fully, requires me to feel worthy enough to have those conversations. Self-worth has also been a really essential piece of the puzzle as I grow as a CEO of my business, and also as a human, being able to ask for help to put things into the world like this podcast, and then to trust myself to make fast, effective decisions for the business, for my life, all of that. So self-worth is the foundation of being able to live the life that you love, to actually really having that purpose and joy in your life, and it really starts from understanding that self-worth is the flex.
Lesson number seven, this one I love too, because it’s just true. Make time to roller skate or “………………”, (insert any other intentional fun here). The other night I was out with some friends to celebrate my birthday, so we had dinner and had plans to go roller skating. (Not sure who said that, probably it was me, but it might have been my friend) anyway, we had dinner, and after dinner we were kind of questioning, “Do we really want to go roller skating? It’s not open for another hour. We have to drive. We’ll have to wait. It’s so late.” It started at nine, which tells you something about our usual bedtimes, and so we were undecided about really wanting to do this, and it’s going to be crowded. Nobody wants to fall down on a hardwood floor, and more excuses, etc. I also knew from experience that we weren’t motivated, but that it would actually be fun once we did it and that we had to commit to doing it. I feel as life has gotten busier and there’s just more going on, it can be very easy to bypass the fun. It can be very easy to just do my usual. I’m just going to relax. I’m tired. I need to decompress from the week. But I find that the most effective way to decompress is actually to have fun. That’s actually the way you can feel excited about your life again, and to feel like life is worth what it’s for: It is worth living.
So once we were there and had our shoes on, we started to skate, and I was so glad we did it. It was so much fun. There were tons of people, and some people were hanging on the side, some had flashing lights on their skates, and there’s also these great roller skaters there, and the people watching it. Roller skating is prime. It is so, so good. So make time for fun. Whether it’s roller skating or doing something that is outside what you normally do, give yourself some time for fun and really notice the change for yourself when you are prioritizing doing something that is not for other people. It’s not for your kids, it’s not for your spouse, it’s not for your friends. This is just something that is totally for you, that is totally fun and outside what you normally do. I promise you, you’ll see a change and expansion within yourself.
All right, this leads me my eighth and final lesson from 2023, which is this: I’ve learned this many times over the years, but it did show up in a totally different way for me this year, and that is that love is always the most important thing, the most meaningful, tremendous, huge moment of my life. This year was absolutely the moment that I married my husband, Michael, in front of all my friends and family. The creation of our relationship is one of the things I’m most proud of for myself in the last couple of years. Being willing to release the internal programming and blocks that came with divorce was a really big journey, and then being vulnerable enough to risk it again with dating and committing to another human has really brought up so many feelings, including feelings of risk in the last couple of years, and has taken a lot from myself to come back and to commit. I also credit Michael. He is such a steady human and partner, and he’s one who’s always willing to level up, and he really does such a beautiful job, inviting me to the next level. So all of the emotions and feelings and experiences of us building this relationship and then being able to share that commitment in front of our friends and family, was honestly so overwhelming in the very best way. And sometimes when I’m in coaching experiences and the coaches will ask us to remember moments that we felt really loved, or we felt really ourselves in the most authentic way, I always think about that moment where I was walking down the aisle, seeing Michael there, seeing all of these people that I love in one place, and remembering how deeply, deeply loved I felt in that moment. It felt so powerful, and it was that reminder, love is always the most important thing, like family, friends, self-love. I will say my journey to get there required so much self-worth and self-love to be able to be in that moment of experiencing the love of others, and there’s nothing more important. When I look back on 2023, that will be my reminder, love is the most important thing. It has been the anchor for me in all of the journeys that I’ve been on throughout this whole year, and I just feel really grateful that I had that moment for myself in 2023.
So, friends, that’s it. Those are my eight biggest lessons from the year. And thank you for listening, for being part of this conversation. I hope that you were able to glean something for yourself around your own learnings from this year or what you’re hoping to build for 2024. I mean, that is part of the reason to even reflect on the year, and I know for myself I’m going to be in some good reflection around my intentions for 2024; what I want to create and the goals that I have.
Thank you so much for listening and I’d love to hear from you. If you heard something in here that just really struck you and really resonated with you, dm me at Nicole Tsong on Instagram. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much friends, for this, our final episode of the year for 2023 on the School of Self-Worth. I am so grateful to every guest we’ve had, and every person who has downloaded and listened to this podcast.
We have been growing steadily all year and I feel so, so grateful to have so many of you contributing to this podcast, to me, simply by being part of this community. I am very grateful for you. Happy New year whenever you listen to this, and I can’t wait to see you in 2024. Thank you for tuning into today’s episode. Before you go, don’t forget, if you are a high-achieving woman who wants to uncover your biggest blind spots preventing fast intuitive decisions, I’ve got a 72-second assessment for you, so make sure to dm me quiz on at Nicole Tsong at Instagram.
Thank you for being here and for listening. We read every note that we get from you about how the podcast is making a difference in your life. Please know how much we appreciate each and every one of you.
Until next time, I’m Nicole Tsong and this is the School of Self-Worth.