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What I Realized When I Woke Up New Year’s Day and Couldn’t Breathe

Emily Williams

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In December 2020, my husband and I went to Vail, Colorado, and took two weeks completely offline (besides sharing some BTS on Instagram, of course) for Christmas and New Year’s. 

We drove there from Santa Barabara in my brand new Range Rover Sport, he re-proposed to me with a brand new ring that I had designed and purchased myself (video here!), and we stayed at the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel…where we were upgraded to a suite.

(I’m telling you all of this to paint a picture of just how incredible that trip was!) We went to the spa, ate amazing food, snowmobiled on the top of a mountain and even rented a chalet with our friends for New Year’s. It was a dreamy few weeks, and I felt so grateful for the experience. In fact, it’s my favorite Christmas with my husband to date!

New Year’s Day

However, one of the things I wasn’t expecting was to wake up on New Year’s Day, unable to breathe.

Now, this wasn’t a “need to go to the hospital” sort of experience, it was more a shortness of breath, and an inner knowing that something was really off.

Unlike some moments in life, this wasn’t a mystery. This time, I knew what was wrong…

Since September 2020, I’d been working with coaches who recommended that I specifically focus on the coaching community as my ideal client for I Heart My Life. They were remarkable, credible mentors and for a while, I decided to put what I really wanted for my company to the side and do as I was told. After all, they had my best interests at heart, and we’ve all heard that focusing on one niche creates tremendous momentum. (Plus, I had been working with mainly coaches for the last few years, so it made perfect sense!)

Following their advice, I chose to go all in on that direction, and we even built a membership just for coaches that was meant to launch in January 2021. 

But when I woke up that morning, breathless, I knew that the launch couldn’t happen. In short: I refused to deny what I wanted for I Heart My Life any longer. 

In the book You Can Heal Your Life, the great Louise Hay categorizes breathing problems as: Fear; Not trusting the process of life; Getting stuck in childhood; Fear of taking in life fully. 

That last part really resonated with me. 

Despite planning this membership (Building it. Writing the emails. Prepping the marketing.)—I couldn’t bring myself to see it to fruition. It wasn’t the full expression of I Heart My Life. 

To be honest, this was not a surprise. I had been feeling that way for four years. 

You see, I started I Heart My Life back in 2014. It started as a life coaching company for women who wanted to fulfill their deepest desires and pursue their purpose.

As time went on, those initial months sent me on a path of working with business owners. Everyone wanted to know how I built my business. And I was happy to help them do the same. 

The first two years were surreal—I felt like I had fallen into the world of business coaching for a reason. I was good at it. My business was thriving. I loved working with driven entrepreneurs. 

But as time went on, it felt like I wasn’t in alignment with the original vision for and mission of the company.

The Realization

When I came up with the idea for I Heart My Life back in 2013, it was for all women; not just business owners.

I even put together a video (using my friends’ photos!) to describe the brand when I entered into a contest to win a spot in a business building program. 

Check it out here. (The production value we’re used to seeing now is a lot different, but my core message is the same!)

As you can see, it covers all bases of success and is about helping you get whatever you want, whether that’s:

  • Money
  • Happiness
  • Career
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Success
  • Travel

And yes, over the years, we’ve been able to weave other topics into our programs. 

In fact, I talk to my business clients about happiness all the time. I tell them flat out that if their business isn’t making them happy, then we need to change something. That they deserve to be fully satisfied. That their happiness is more important to me than anything else.

After all, I Heart My Life was built out of my own pain of being in a quarter-life crisis for five years. Not knowing what lit me up. Feeling lost. Not having a passion or a purpose. Not feeling grounded or rooted in my decisions. Allowing fear and doubt to run the show. 

And ironically, I found myself in a similar place in that ski chalet in Vail.

That morning, I spoke to two of my girlfriends who were staying with us. (It’s always handy to have friends who are powerful coaches!)

One of them offered to do a session with me there and then.

Although we didn’t come to any conclusions about what my next steps would be, we both agreed that seeing as I help other people love their life, I deserved to love mine too.

Something needed to change.

Somewhere along the way, I’d gotten lost. I’d conformed. I fell into something because I could do it, but that didn’t mean that I should.

And yes, I was able to quickly make a business out of that, but my vision was always I Heart My Life—not I Heart My Business. 

So what happened? What went wrong?

“Nothing. That’s just what happens sometimes in business,” my intuition said.

Now, let’s be real. It’s not like I was a million degrees off course. It’s not like I couldn’t get this train back on track if I really wanted to.

As one of my friends said to me months later, “It’s like that Maren Morris song ‘The Bones’—the bones (or the structure) are good”. 

The house don’t fall when the bones are good. 

Of course, I didn’t want this to fall.

But how was I going to build the house I wanted?

Or mansion, I should say. 😉

The way I viewed I Heart My Life at the time was that it was stuck in a box and couldn’t expand. I’d been very clear about the vision the entire time and just thought it would naturally evolve into that.

But then I realized that I have to build it.

Next Steps

So what did I do next?

I decided to stay in Vail for another week on my own to get my thoughts together. I told my team we weren’t moving forward with the launch. I got clear on what I actually wanted to sell. What the brand was about, and how I wanted to make an impact.

Did this happen overnight? No!

It’s been two years, and the business house still isn’t completely built, but it’s on its way.

(As one of my friends said to me…it’s like you have a big cruise ship that you want to turn around. It’s not going to happen in a split second!)

Have there been days when I cried and wanted to throw in the towel? Totally!

Have there been moments of utter confusion and wondering why I did this in the first place? Yes!

Have there been times when I wished I could just be someone who does things for the money? Of course.

But there’s so much joy that comes from knowing you’re headed in the aligned direction.

I wanted to share this with you today because oftentimes, things look shiny on the outside (and even feel mostly shiny!) but intuitively, you know something is off. If that’s the case, don’t ignore that feeling. Tune in and give yourself permission to explore it.

Ask yourself some powerful questions such as: Is there a calling or message you’ve been ignoring that’s ready to be thought about, felt into, voiced or heard? What would happen if you acknowledged it and then took action this year?

Or even as simple as: How do you want to be spending your time? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you had unlimited funds in the bank, what decision would you make? If you didn’t care what people thought, what would you do?

And remember, there’s no need to be afraid of the answer or the steps life is requiring you to take. It’s far scarier to stay stuck!

If your heart is calling you to do something different, shut something off, leave the relationship, then maybe that’s your next step. And you owe it to yourself to explore that.

The sooner you trust, the sooner you’ll get back in alignment.

And today, although I’m 8.5 months pregnant, feeling massive and sleep-deprived AND sick in bed with a cough and fever, I feel happier and more aligned than ever before. I’m so grateful for that New Year’s Day wakeup-call two years ago.

The direction I’m headed in feels so good!

Remember, tune into your own “feel-good feelings” and know that anything you desire is meant for you and possible. You deserve to love your life!

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