How I Stumbled from Success to the Good Life

How I Stumbled from Success to the Good Life

Kathleen Byars | February 26, 2017

Six months ago, I wrote an article about Why I Traded My Lipstick and Pinstripe Suit to Live on an Island. It resonated with a lot of people. You may have read that article and subscribed to my newsletter because of it.

Thank you.

Like many people who have joined my community, you may feel like you are biding your time until you can create your own “island story.”

Maybe you dream of a NEW CAREER.

Maybe you want MORE BALANCE in your life.

Maybe you want to do something meaningful, and use your skills with a GREATER PURPOSE in mind.

What’s stopping you?

If you are comfortable doing so, leave a comment below and share so we can learn from each other.

I’ll tell you what stopped me from finding my ideal life for a long time. And what took me eight years of research, trial and error, and deep introspection to figure out.

The answer to the good life isn’t outside of you. It’s inside.

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Dr. Stephen Covey calls this Inside Out Living. In his research on success, Covey found the success literature of the past fifty years to be superficial. It is filled with social image techniques and quick-fix, external Band-Aids to address acute internal problems. The issue being that these “fixes” only work temporarily. Prior to this time period, success literature focused on man’s nature and intrinsic principles, rather than external forces.

I didn’t realize this gem of wisdom so I kept looking for answers in all the wrong places:

  • I tried being more productive. I thought if I could squeeze more productivity into each day, I would find more time to do the things I loved. I was wrong.
  • I tried changing jobs and considered a myriad of new career paths I might take. This didn’t work either.
  • I tried being nicer and more benevolent in hopes that my increased dedication to spirituality would throw better karma my way. My karma didn’t budge.
  • I tried telling myself that I had a fantastic life and I should be grateful for what I had. After all, so many others in the world have far more difficult lives. My first-world anxiety was silly and I needed to get over it. The shame I felt about my discontent just made things worse.
  • I tried being poor, but that just made me miss being rich.


I had carved out a successful life for myself and yet I still felt discontented. Every time I made gains in one area, I lost ground in another.

Finally, I threw my hands up in despair and decided to do the very opposite of what I was doing. And it worked.

Here are three major shifts I learned to make:

STOP ASKING PERMISSION: For a long time, I kept thinking that IF I had a flexible enough job and IF I had a certain kind of boss and IF the company culture was a certain way and IF I could go home every night at 5 PM that my life would be infinitely better.

The problem with this type of thinking is that we are waiting for someone or something else to give us “permission” to have the life we want. Rather than establish our boundaries, according to what we want in life, we hope that some external force will tell us that it is okay to work less and play more.

ALTER YOUR EGO: What I learned in the islands is that I valued myself for what I did. My ego – and sense of self-worth – was 100% wrapped up in being a high achiever. Being an inexperienced divemaster and boat captain in the islands meant I had thrust myself into a world of incompetence. My inability to cope with my struggle was almost paralytic.

Gaining esteem via performance is a culture-based problem. And letting go of that hidden script inside is terribly painful. Many of us don’t recognize that this pattern is even there; and that our value-based ego is largely dictating the choices we make that actually lead us astray from the good life

LEARN BALANCE: I was so busy looking for the silver bullet that would change my life, that I failed to see the obvious. A well-played life is a life that’s balanced. It’s a life of your own design where all of your needs are getting met in a delightfully fluid and natural way.

It’s not a destination; it’s the journey.

While someday, I hope that I can have a huge impact on the lives of others, right now I can visit my elderly neighbor across the street every Sunday afternoon. And if we want more time with our kiddos, we need to turn the cell phone off and leave the laptop at the office. Following #1 and #2 above, this decision becomes easy to make. Let someone else fill those big corporate shoes. There are higher priorities right now than being king of the corporate hill.


Once I stopped looking outside myself for a solution, true magic happened. My anxiety went away. My frenetic schedule calmed down. My sense of peace and well-being increased. I began looking forward to each day and I began seeing my future as a world of ever-changing possibilities.

And I started making choices that helped me focus on my children, my health, my own well-being, and the community around me along with a compelling, creative career. I was no longer Corporate Kate, I was just Kate: madly in love with my husband, devoted mom of three, outdoor-loving-adventurer, and loyal, honest friend. Woman building an extraordinary life and helping others do the same.

I hope my journey is helpful.

Have a great week and if this article resonates with you, please do me the favor and share!

Is Corporate America Getting in the Way of Motherhood?

Is Corporate America Interfering with Motherhood?

Kathleen Byars | February 18, 2017

A lot of women tell me they want to leave their job. They feel stuck in a demanding corporate career and want to break free.

They miss their kids…they don’t remember the last time they had a real date with their husband…their newest fashion accessory is a baggy twinset to hide the extra 5 lbs from lack of exercise and one-too-many-late-nights-at-the-office vino and pizza…and the only alone time they get is the commute to the office.

Believe me, I get it.

I used to slink around guilt-laden by the long days I left my daughter in childcare. And fifteen pounds ago, I wore that baggy twinset. And I relished my 45-minute commute to the office, especially when I turned the cell phone ringer off and played Alanis Morissette EXTRA LOUD on the car stereo.

Yet, what if I told you that Corporate America isn’t the problem?

Well, at least not the main problem.

What if I told you that our culturescape is the problem? And that you are unwittingly carrying our culturescape inside of you; allowing society to guide you, direct you, and influence your every move?

Here’s a secret that took me ten years to figure out. Corporations don’t create gilded cages. We do.

Because we’re SCARED…

We’re scared to stop being the #1 employee in the room…because that would mean we are a failure.

We’re scared to be passed over on those big, important projects…because that means we’re less valuable.

We’re scared to lose our lifestyle – or Heavens to Betsy – downgrade our lifestyle…because that means we’re not capable.

We’re scared (and super resentful) of that skinny, little, ambitious new girl who is clawing at our heels … because that means we weren’t smart enough to keep our place at the table.

And we’re scared that if we don’t provide the very best schools, the very best college fund, and the very best vacation for our family every year than we are letting our kids, our spouse, our parents, and ourselves down.

Do you know what I mean?

While RATIONALLY, we know this stuff isn’t supposed to matter, it does. It did for me. And guess what? All of those fears don’t go away if you leave the corporate world.

They follow you. And haunt you. And you’re just as scared as ever, but now you are charting brand-new territory without a compass. The answer isn’t LEAVING the corporate world. Because you’ll drive yourself equally as crazy as an entrepreneur. Or you’ll be miserable at a lower ranking job. Or you’ll burn out being a stay-at-home mom. Until you REDEFINE YOURSELF, you’ll be miserable no matter where you are.

Believe me, I’ve tried it.

So what’s a girl to do? How the heck do you release yourself from the culturescape and start writing your own story? The story you really want:

…where the kids are a BIG PART of each day.

…and your husband is the super-sexy guy you fell in love with rather than the dude who helps you prop up this thing called life

…where you feel strong and fit and healthy because you eat well and exercise every single day

…and you stay up late reading a favorite book and meet your best friend every Saturday for coffee guilt-free

You know what I mean. Whatever your version of a BALANCED, MEANINGFUL life story looks like.

Here’s what you do.

Let go. Seriously, just let go. Stop the madness and write your very own, unique, special and completely audacious life story. It’s scary as hell. And the road map is murky at best. But damn, it feels oh so good!

To do that, you have to change how you DEFINE yourself. Believe it or not, you can stay RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, working for the same company and change your priorities, change your availability, and establish your boundaries. Or jump to one of the many amazing corporations that have outstanding cultures that embrace your desire for balance and motherhood.

You do not have to abide by the culturescape. It may be inside you, but you’re stronger than that. Just let it go and start creating the life you’ve always dreamed of. Write down what you want and the steps to get there. What boundaries do you need to create? What compromises will you have to make? And best of all, what is the reward? A life surrounded by your littles that’s peaceful, centered and completely authentic.

Geez…that sounds pretty good. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t value a life of balance, but I sure do. And I bet you might, too…

I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I believe that we are capable of far more than we allow ourselves to imagine and when we dare to live by our own rules we find a life of true joy, success, and balance.

Do you know anyone who might benefit from this article? If so, please forward and share!

Is Your Life Balanced?

Can Life Really Be Balanced?

Kathleen Byars | February 10, 2017

Earlier this week I had an interesting conversation with a baby-mama friend of mine. She just had her third daughter six months ago.

And she is a successful, online entrepreneur.

We began talking about balance. Particularly the tug and pull that parents have between career and family.

I felt that pull loudly when I was a single mother raising my daughter. I often had to leave my daughter to the care of nannies while I traveled abroad. That’s a long way to travel away from a child. I felt tremendous guilt, but I pushed it aside for a variety of reasons that I didn’t understand then and know all-too-well now.

As my girlfriend and I spoke on the phone, she needed to nurse her child. “Go for it!” I cried. (I’m the last person to be affronted when a mother needs to feed her baby). She tended to her little one and we continued talking.

We chatted about my experience raising my daughter and her experience raising her oldest daughter (who is now twelve) and the regrets we both have. We talked about careers and childcare, the long hours away from our littles, and the quiet guilt we both carried during our younger mothering days.

We spoke with honesty about the lessons we’ve learned and how different our choices are now.

At one point in the conversation my girlfriend said, “Kate, I don’t know if you ever really find balance. I’ve been up all night with the baby and I’m certainly not going to get a full night’s sleep anytime soon.”

I totally got her point!

Yet, as she said those words it brought to mind for me another thought:

Life isn’t about finding the perfect balance. A life of well-being, contentment, and joy is about living congruently with your core values. It’s when we trade our higher values to meet a lower-value that we feel off balance, anxious, and unsettled.

For a long time, I didn’t do that. I lived according to the values our culture defined for me. I defined success – and my self-esteem – according to what I did, instead of who I was.

And I traded many beautiful memories with my oldest daughter to chase my own desire to be a VIP.

t we feel off balance, anxious, and unsettled.

Dr. Stephen Covey states in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that the real problem that get’s in the way of living a highly effective life is the way we see the problem.

I didn’t understand what that meant when I first began my quest to find the good life.

Now I do.

The problem isn’t how to find a flexible job, a four hour work week, or make enough money to retire. The problem is that we are living in contradiction to our priorities and values. And we’re scared #$@&-less to change … even though our current way of living isn’t working.

Do you ever find that to be true?

Living a good life isn’t about arriving at a place of plenty where we have enough freedom, enough money, and enough time to do as we please. No one has that…I don’t care who they are.

Living a good life is living a life of well-being, designed around YOUR life values and priorities. And as long as you are living congruently with what you believe, then you are thriving and experiencing the good life.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.

I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I believe that we are capable of far more than we allow ourselves to imagine and when we dare to live by our own rules we find a life of true joy, success, and balance.

If you think someone in your network could benefit from this article, please share!

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