“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.”
For as long as I can remember, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has been my favorite poem. I believe my ten-year-old self relished the opportunity that existed deep within Frost’s words – the capacity to blaze your own trail and change the world in the process.
And now, I’m trying to do just that, one routine at a time.
My journey began on the podium at my high school graduation. My speech underlined my innate desire to make a difference in the world, as I encouraged my peers to dare to dream big. After all, the worst kind of regret stems from the chances you didn’t take, rather than the mistakes you learn to learn from. I would not fully understand this concept until years later.
I set forth on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, inspired by the diversity and tangible sense of community. During those four formative years, I gained a deeper appreciation for the unique story that defines each of us. I stepped into the woman I was becoming, the endorphin-loving salad queen with an affinity for laughter, sunshine, and meaningful conversation.
And amidst all of that, I caught a glimpse of the stress-induced anxiety that can rob us of our ability to thrive.
Through support from my ever-loving family and understanding UNC Kenan-Flagler professors, I regained my footing almost immediately. I shook off the dull cover that had diminished my vibrancy for just a moment, and I let my light shine even brighter than before. And through this experience, I realized just how quickly putting self-care on the backburner can cause even the healthiest of individuals to implode. Little did I know this realization would shape my “why” nearly five years later.
Fast forward after graduation, and I was working as a financial services consultant in a fast-paced environment with bright minds accustomed to academic success. While the culture was collaborative and built upon doing the right thing, there was an underlying sense of competition – against who, is still left to be determined. It’s my own personal view that we were constantly striving to be better than our perceptions of our peers – and our perceptions of ourselves.
Months later, when I, just as so many of my peers, was falling prey to the physical and mental exhaustion that stems from a lack of balance, I took a step back. I started down another path – one with less foot traffic, I might add – and started prioritizing my mental and physical health. I spoke up when given the chance to choose my own opportunities at work, and I learned the power of that mighty little word, “no.” It was a path of trial and error, but after a few years, I learned the key to managing my energy – and wanted nothing more than to empower others to find balance in today’s chaotic world.
Which brings me to the most important part of choosing the road less traveled: your “why” will always be more powerful than your “what” or your “how.”
I share all this because I want to emphasize the importance of listening to your intuition – to what ignites you on a daily basis – and pursue it fearlessly. Find what inspires you and what motivates you, and don’t let it out of your sight. Be pragmatic, but don’t lose your ability to dream. Keep opening doors, and windows, and everything in between – because they won’t all lead you to your unique path – but you won’t know until you have the courage to turn the handle.
For me, my passion lies deep within holistic health, intentional living, and empowering others to cultivate healthy habits that help them lead their best lives, every single day. Reminding people to slow down, take a deep breath, and savor every step of their unique journey – the hard, the happy, the indisputably beautiful. Because in our most difficult hours, we take a giant leap into the people we’re meant to be.
And when we embrace our experiences and use them to shape our path forward? That makes all the difference.
Laura is a financial services consultant with a website + blog focused on holistic health and mindful living. She is in the process of launching a free webinar, "How This 5 Step Routine Will Help You Maximize Your Time and Avoid Burnout." Laura is passionate about helping people learn how to cultivate healthy habits, especially those who are struggling with exhaustion and stress-induced anxiety – and those who simply want more time to do what they love. Her mission is to make health and wellness practical in daily life. Laura strives to help people find balance through one-on-one mentorship, group mentorship, and virtual workshops.
For more about Laura’s mission, check out her website: www.laurajhanson.com
To connect with Laura, follow her on Instagram: @the_optimistic_yopro
To join Laura’s community, like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/laurajhanson/
Photos by Natalie E. Photography