Set goals, but surrender to the unfolding. Surrender doesn’t mean giving up and having zero control; it means being open to things we can’t see or consider from where we’re standing now. We don’t know what will happen in this life or during these times, which means we can only really plan so much. Set your goals! Move toward them with intention! And stay open to the natural unfolding that is living this life. I promise the journey will be far more fulfilling and aligned.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephenie Zamora.
Stephenie Zamora is an author and coach, business and marketing strategist, and founder of Stephenie Zamora Media — a digital media and production company, publishing house, and a full-service life-purpose development, branding, and online marketing boutique. Her company has been merging the worlds of personal development, digital media, and online marketing to help individuals build purpose-driven lives and businesses for over a decade. Stephenie’s work helps catalyze individuals on their healing and growth journeys so they can uncover the purpose of their path, step into who they’re here to be, and do the work they’re here to do through several distinct brand verticals that follow a proven five-phase process.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I like to say that purpose is my purpose, and that’s a truth that’s colored my entire journey. I got my start in graphic design, only to quickly realize I wasn’t meant to be “just another designer.” My talent was a tool to do far greater work in the world; I just didn’t know what that meant. So I surrendered to the questions and began untangling from the “perfect little life” I’d built. I left my relationship of almost seven years, quit my fantastic job at a local design firm, moved out of the brand new townhouse I’d only bought eight months earlier, and then moved across the ocean to Hawaii. I started making all the external changes I could think of to find “happiness” and “fulfillment,” but nothing seemed to work. I was lost, depressed, struggling to start a business and navigate a new relationship in a new place, and had no idea how to create contentment and a sense of purpose for myself.
It was in this deep despair that I came across the idea of a legacy project. This intrigued me and inspired me to start exploring what it meant to live my legacy. I started asking myself more challenging questions, like what impact I wanted to make, how I wanted to be remembered, and what contributions felt important. I discovered the world of personal development and went down the rabbit hole with loads of books, powerful blogs, a series of life and business coaches, and different programs and mastermind groups.
I discovered my voice while blogging about everything I was learning and feeling passionate about. That’s how StephenieZamora.com was born, and everything has evolved organically from there. I started writing about personal growth and navigating a quarter-life crisis. After running my first program, my members found their passions and became inspired to start businesses, so I started teaching everything I knew about building a profitable online business around your passions. Several years later, I experienced a sudden and traumatic loss that left me with PTSD, which further influenced the trajectory of my work as I began to share what I was learning about rising up and coming back in the aftermath of challenging chapters. I’ve written three books, run three online programs, and have built us into a media company that supports people in living their purpose — and it continues to evolve as I grow.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
After my traumatic loss, my business came to a halt, and I felt disconnected from my work. I tried desperately to re-engage in everything I’d built and get things moving again, but to no avail. Finally, I realized that I needed to discover who I’d become after everything I’d been through and how my work was meant to evolve because of that. But I couldn’t seem to do it with the “old me” constantly in my face. So, I did the least strategic and expected thing I could do: I pulled everything down.
Yep, I pulled down seven years of content, websites, and programs and left up a couple of pages for opt-ins and design clients. This further destroyed my sense of self and left me floating aimlessly at first, and hardly anyone around me understood the importance of this move. In fact, my mentor at the time almost fell out of his chair when I told him what I’d done. But the truth is, this was the best decision I could’ve made for myself and my business, and I stand by that to this day, despite how it affected my revenue, search engine optimization, and other “critical factors” in growing a business.
It created space for me to find myself again and get clear on what was next. I launched a new site named Call of the Void®, created my signature Journey Mapping™ program and process, wrote a memoir called Unravel, and generally deepened my conversations about purpose with my audience. I’m so grateful that I was brave enough to make this move. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t.
This reinforced something I’d slowly been learning throughout my business: we have to trust ourselves above all else. No one can discern what’s right for us, and many of the best ideas and decisions in my life and business have gone against what everyone around me believes is the “right” thing to do. Trust your heart, trust your journey, trust your intuition. It won’t always be easy or seamless, and sometimes it will get much harder before things align. But it’s always worth it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe what makes my company stand out is our dedication to becoming The Future of Life-Purpose Development™. We’re not doing that in the traditional sense of trying to become the leader of all leaders in our industry, but instead by disrupting present conversations. While I believe there are so many beautiful souls and impactful organizations furthering the discussion about what it means to live our purpose while helping people actually start doing it, there’s so much being left out that’s crucial to the conversation.
Many of my clients come to me feeling lost, overwhelmed, traumatized, and like what they desire is impossible. We can’t just continue to shout the same old purpose rhetoric at people; we must begin to address healing and growth work on a deeper level, speak to the damaging systems that limit our ability to show up fully expressed, and teach people how to break free from their deeper subconscious programming and “winning strategies” so they can actually move toward what they want. It’s not enough to preach positivity, discipline, goal-setting, or even how to manifest. Living our purpose requires much deeper, more intricate, and personalized work.
Take my client Robert for example. Robert wanted nothing more than to live his purpose in this life and impact others, but he was stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle of self-sabotage and small living. This is because he had a tremendous amount of trauma from his formative years, lost sight of his truth and connection to self from familial, education, and societal systems over the years, and had no idea that his tendency to people please (a way to stay “safe” and “secure”) was making what he desired impossible.
By addressing each of these areas in a very personal, process-oriented way, we were able to get him in motion on his biggest dreams and desires. It’s not easy work, to be sure. But if we just try to “work harder” or “be more positive” without addressing these deeper layers, we only reinforce the limiting belief that something’s wrong with us because we still can’t seem to make progress.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Yes, I’m tremendously grateful for the mentors and coaches I’ve had along the way and the incredible friends and peers who’ve supported me and encouraged my growth. But, the person who stands out to me the most is someone I’ve yet to meet: Tracy Goss.
Her book, The Last Word on Power, has shifted the way I approach achieving big, inspiring goals. She’s helped me learn how to make impossible things happen, step out of the subconscious strategies that keep me small, and move things forward rapidly in my life and business. I was fortunate enough to work with one of her coaches, and he held my feet to the fire in a very particular and productive way. I can’t recommend her book and work highly enough.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or as having some degree of “toughness.” But I would argue that resilience requires far more softness and surrender. If we’re not open to exploring our internal worlds, doing deeper healing work, or receiving guidance and support, we’re often not able to fully recover from difficulties in life. Instead, the effects layer on each other (and on top of old core wounds, fears, traumas, and limiting beliefs) and keep us playing smaller and smaller.
Surrender to me is about having trust and faith in yourself and the energies around you. Call it the Universe, call it God, call it Source or Spirit. Call it The Energy That Is. There’s an undercurrent in our world that connects us to everything else. That energy is continually working to influence the direction we’re growing so we can become fully expressed. If we’re trying to control everything with a fearful, white-knuckle grip, we’re never going to end up where we’re supposed to be. And if we haven’t done our deeper healing work, we won’t actually be making conscious choices because we’re still being run by our subconscious mind without realizing it.
Inner fortitude leads to resilient external actions. Actions that realign us with the path we were walking before “life happened,” but also help us grow beyond where we were before, becoming better for everything we’ve experienced. Resilient people do their deeper healing and growth work, even when they feel “fine.” They actively unpack their subconscious strategies, oldest traumas and core wounds, and anything that’s holding them back from showing up fully expressed.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage takes a tremendous amount of softness and surrender, for sure. So I’d say that’s where I see the biggest connection to resilience. That said, courage to me involves a bit more of the outer work. It asks us to do our inner work, otherwise, we won’t be able to put ourselves out there. But courage comes into play the more we begin to take risks in the direction of what we desire.
Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” If you’re not taking outward actions, you’re not leaning into uncertainty, actively risking something, or exposing yourself on an emotional level. And suppose you don’t have a baseline of resilience and the skills needed to maintain it in challenging times. In that case, you won’t be as courageous in your life and work because you’re still driven by old, outdated limitations on that internal level.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I think of so many people, but someone who stands out to me at this moment is Helen Keller. Deprived of two essential senses, she still found a way to build a meaningful and purposeful life. That takes a serious commitment to resilience, as there were so many struggles along the way.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes, all the time! As someone who’s always had big, ambitious dreams, I’m used to people around me telling me why they’re not possible. One thing that comes to mind is when I decided I wanted to move to the mountain valley and get a vehicle I could easily camp in the back of. People around me were scared by and uncomfortable with this idea for many reasons. They told me it would be a struggle, I wouldn’t have support, it was a bad time, and that it would be too expensive. I also had a lease for another six months or so. But I made it happen. In fact, within just weeks of deciding I was going for it, I was able to get out of my lease, found the perfect low-mileage 4Runner I could pay off in my own time, and rented a great apartment sight unseen. It was one of the best decisions of my life and I’m so glad I made it happen!
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
At the end of 2014, I experienced a sudden and traumatic loss. It left me with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), led me into an abusive relationship, caused my business to die a slow death, paved an unavoidable path to bankruptcy, and left me with a slew of health issues to contend with. At the worst of it, I developed dysphagia which is the inability to swallow. For nine long days, I choked on my saliva, and it was nearly a year before I was able to eat and drink normally.
I took a “full-court press” approach to my healing, throwing everything I could at it, even bartering services when I couldn’t afford to pay for support. During this period, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about finding healing and wholeness after challenging chapters and big life transitions. I also learned what it takes to “make a comeback” and rebuild my life from the ashes of what it once was. My life and work have been heavily influenced by this period in beautiful and transformative ways. While I will never be grateful for the loss or say “everything happens for divine reasons” (some things do, and some things are just chaotic and human), I’m thankful for the person I’ve become and what my life and work look like today. I’m stronger — not because these things happened — but because I chose to heal, grow, and make meaning from the experiences in a productive way.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Doing the deeper healing and growth work has been fundamental to resiliency for me; it’s why I’m so passionate about catalyzing others to do the same. This has given me an unwavering foundation for navigating this life and the world, especially these more uncertain times. Learning to ask for and receive support has also been tremendously helpful. We tend to become self-sufficient out of necessity when we experience trauma and struggle (at any point in our life). Learning to lean on others in our time of need not only gives us the resources to step into what’s next wholeheartedly but allows us to cultivate a loving community. Lastly, learning to push my edges actively and see that I can survive scary and uncomfortable things has significantly expanded my sense of self-trust!
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Understand yourself fully. If you want to be resilient and continue growing into the person you’re here to be, you have to know yourself fully. This is about knowing your personality type, attachment style, core wounding, belief system, and values, among other things like your preferences, desires, and most important goals.
- Unpack your subconscious strategies to stop self-sabotage. Most people are walking around thinking they’re making conscious choices in their lives, but the deeper subconscious pieces (often super old and laced with limiting beliefs and fear) are wholly influencing those conscious decisions. You’re never really free or in control if you haven’t dug into your subconscious patterns. That also means you’re more likely to stay down and out when things get hard because it reinforces any stories you hold about what’s impossible for yourself.
- Do your healing work, even if you think you’re “fine.” In addition to addressing our subconscious programming so we can make genuinely free, conscious choices, we have to unpack and heal our unresolved grief and trauma — which we all have. I don’t care how lovely and wonderful your childhood was; you have trauma experienced as a child or somewhere along your journey from life, relationships, and all the systems at play.
- Build trust in yourself and have your own back. You have to have your own back to be resilient, which means trusting yourself and your intuition above all else. Make decisions that feel right for you. Set boundaries when and where you need to without consulting anyone else or caring what they have to say about it. Speak up and tell your truth, always and often, leaving anyone who can’t hold space for it behind. Be a loud, fierce advocate for what you need, especially within the systems that frequently ignore and harm us.
- Set goals, but surrender to the unfolding. Surrender doesn’t mean giving up and having zero control; it means being open to things we can’t see or consider from where we’re standing now. We don’t know what will happen in this life or during these times, which means we can only really plan so much. Set your goals! Move toward them with intention! And stay open to the natural unfolding that is living this life. I promise the journey will be far more fulfilling and aligned.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Systems work. Meaning, helping people identify the systems at play in their lives and our world at large, as well as teaching them how to navigate them without losing sight of who they are. The systems in our world are so limiting and damaging, and there are so many that we don’t even become aware of until we’ve been immersed in them too long. It’s not about eliminating systems altogether because we’ll always have them. It’s about learning to shift them in healthy and supportive ways, or at the very least, learning how to not be stressed and strained while working inside of them to produce better and different outcomes.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Glennon Doyle is one of the most inspiring people in my mind right now because she’s so willing to put herself and her truth into the world imperfectly. I related so much to what she says and her personality, and the way she expresses herself. She has a unique perspective on life, relationships, healing, and so many other things. I think it would be really fun and transformational to just sit and talk about navigating the challenges and triumphs of life with her!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can read my weekly articles on healing and growth, living your purpose, and making the impossible happen (and access loads of resources) at www.stepheniezamora.com. I also post regular musings, content, and updates on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!