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Made Vibrant

Using Self-Awareness To Adjust Your Aspirations

Caroline ZookCaroline Zook Caroline ZookCaroline Zook

Written by

Caroline Zook

Using Self-Awareness To Adjust Your Aspirations

Today I wanted to talk to you all about dangerous aspirations. (Hmmm ‘Dangerous Aspirations.’ Sounds like a cool film noir title, doesn’t it?) But first, some background:

A few weeks ago I started getting back into Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel when Jason sent me this really great thought-provoking interview with Gary.

(For those of you not familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s one of the more visible entrepreneurs out there on social media, rising to popularity after taking his father’s wine company from a $3 million to a $50 million business. Now Gary runs a multi-million dollar social/digital agency, VaynerMedia, writes books and does a ton of Q&A style speaking gigs around the world.)

But, none of those textbook accomplishments are why I’ve looked up to Gary for so long. He’s always been a fascinating character to me since my discovery years ago of this entrepreneurial world that I didn’t even know existed.

First off, his energy is palpable and contagious. When he speaks, you can tell he believes what he’s saying with conviction. That’s certainly a quality I admire in people. I’ve also always been drawn to anyone willing to do and say whatever they feel without worrying what other people think. Gary’s got that in spades.

BUT, a few months ago, I decided I needed to break up with Gary.

I stopped watching his videos and seeking out his content because I started to feel that his ‘hustle’ mentality was wildly out of alignment with what I know my values to be. His DailyVee vlogs would show marathon-style work days with him running around from meeting to meeting, Snapchatting the in between moments, getting visibly angry from a mixup in his schedule, and working through what seemed like every waking minute.

I admit it… I would watch these videos and I would judge him.

This guy can’t possibly be happy living like this. He’s so ON all the time. When does he step away to connect with nature or his family or himself? When does he rest? What is he trying to prove?

It wasn’t until Jason sent me that interview I mentioned above that I realized: HOLY COW was that judgmental of me.

I was trying to put MY values on Gary. Measuring him up against what I have found to be right FOR ME in my own life. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that I ask people not to do to me all the time. I felt like such a hypocrite, and it forced me to rethink how I view people I look up to.

I realized that if that’s true — if I shouldn’t use my values and beliefs as a measuring stick to judge how one of my online mentors/inspirations lives his life — then the reverse is true too.

While I could see that part of me was judging Gary, I could see another part of me judging myself for not being as hard working as Gary. For not having his same boundless energy.

I thought of how many other entrepreneurs and mentors of mine I’ve had these feelings about: that I wish I had the story-telling quality of Brené Brown so I could speak around the world like she does; or that I could write a book like Liz Gilbert that might so perfectly resonate with someone the way Big Magic did with me.

But ultimately here’s what I arrived at:

We shouldn’t use the lives of the people we aspire to as the measuring sticks for our own lives.


Too often we try to reverse engineer the success of the people we admire by aspiring to make our lives (or businesses) look more like theirs, when really it may not be what’s right for us.

The truth is, I DON’T tell stories like Brené (who can!) and I don’t LOVE public speaking. If I ever DO write a book, it won’t just be because I admire Liz Gilbert; it’ll be because I have something to say that I can’t NOT write about.

What I’m trying to say is: we are NOT our mentors.

In that interview with Gary above, my favorite parts are when he acknowledges the tremendous role that self-awareness has played in his personal success.

He’s only a proponent of the ‘hustle’ mentality because it plays to his natural strengths: an almost limitless source of energy that he’s been tapping into since he was a kid. He knows that the frenetic, chaotic nature of his day is what FUELS him, and while it probably won’t be a source of happiness for most people and the way they’re wired, it is for him.

We don’t spend enough time making this distinction.

We spend too much time blindly trying to fit our lifestyles to those that we’re inspired by, and we forget to look within so we can adjust those bits and pieces of inspiration to our own mold.

And I let me also just say… that goes for me too!

My goal is, of course, to send out inspiration and motivation through these emails each week, but I want to be very clear today: I know I’m not you and I know you’re not me.

I’ve worked very hard to design a life that makes ME feel like the most vibrant version of myself, but you never know… maybe if you lived my life every day you’d be bored out of your mind! Maybe my slow beach life and introverted ways would drive you nuts and have you itching for more social interaction! Or maybe you don’t want to work on the weekends or commit to creating art every day. I don’t know.

What I do know is that you have the power to make that decision for yourself.

Only you can truly know what is best for you, what advice you need to hear, what weaknesses you want to improve and what strengths you want to play to.

That’s why self-awareness is the greatest, most important skill set we can cultivate.

The good news is, you’re already a step ahead if you’re signed up for this newsletter because every week you’re hopefully opening yourself up to getting to know YOU better. And that’s really cool.

But whether it’s Garyvee or me or whomever you look up to, let today’s newsletter be a reminder:

There simply is no one-size-fits-all guide to life.

Go within, get honest with yourself, take in the pieces of inspiration you pick up along the way, but ultimately design a life that is completely unique to who you are.

This week, my challenge to you is pretty simple: I invite you to rethink some of the goals or lifestyle elements you’re currently aspiring to.

Whether it’s getting that book deal or creating a booming speaking career or having that five-figure launch or getting married or reaching 1,000 followers on Instagram.

Examine WHY you want those things and what trade-offs might come along with that. Ask yourself what you can learn about yourself from the things and people you aspire, to not necessarily how you can attain them.

The best life is not the one we have to chase down or attain; it’s the one we create for ourselves intentionally, day after day after day.

That’s it, have a great week!

Using Self-Awareness To Adjust Your Aspirations

(Big Fat Takeaway)


This article written by

Caroline Zook

She/Her | Artist, designer + writer passionate about helping soulful creatives grow into their brightest selves. Lover of bright colors + even brighter people! One half of the crazy duo running these parts!

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