A life is full of reasons to …
… not share your real self
… build your life around one value: security
… work because “you have to”
… keep your dreams a secret (even from yourself)
compare your “progress” to others + not believe in yourself.

So I exist to write + teach + inspire you to believe in yourself.

Which really means that I show you how to make your own fairy tale career come true. Because now that you’re here, it means you’re old enough to start believing in fairy tales again.

My name is Sabrina Ali. And I’m a Career Counselor.

I work with professionals and executives under 40 (virtually + around the world) that don’t feel fulfilled by the careers that they worked so hard for. So what I do, is I teach them how to become their own Career Advisor. If this applies to you, you’ll know this: You’re busy people who still want wisdom and sense in busyness. Because there’s nothing quite like navigating your career path with confidence, clarity while being true to yourself.

I invite you to fill out the tiny form on the right so that we can rendez-vous in your inbox (right now about 2-3 times a month). Below is where the library of articles begins (you’ll always be the first to get them if you’re on my very confidential list + some more private messages about what’s going on behind the scenes). Here is where you can find a road map in digital form (something I created just for people experiencing career disappointment + dissatisfaction), to learn more about me, click here and/or how I may be of assistance to you?

If you’d like, you are always welcome to drop me a note. You can do that here.

Make yourself at home. xo

the gift of failure – and how to unwrap it

We grow up wondering if we’re ever going to feel “it.”

You know, maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll stumble upon that illusive feeling. What feeling do I speak of exactly? The feeling of inner worthiness. The one we refer to as being “good enough.”

In pursuit of this feeling without a set criteria, we create a false impression of ourselves. It begins in childhood when if we always feel like we’re coming up as inadequate then striving to be “good enough” becomes a motivator. In essence it’s because you unconsciously believe in a mythical place called “a happy ending” – that it’s somehow the pain on a painful journey that gets you where you really want to be.

(But that’s kind of a gross misinterpretation by ego that I’ll talk about another time.)

You know you’re striving for “good enough” as a “happy ending” when the rewards of your so-called accomplishments are empty, meaningless or meagre. Regardless of how impressive you are regarded as. They can’t quite satisfy deeply nor for very long. Compliments, higher pay, more vacation time, being liked or approved of … intrinsic satisfaction does not exist in spite of extrinsic rewards and validation.

It’s not enough because if you accept that you’re enough, you wonder how you’ll do better next time. “What will motivate me?” is what you wonder if not for the belief that you’re not enough. And the answer right now is: You have a point.

We find ourselves actually believing that feeling inadequate and striving for enoughness is what makes people good people – humble, kind, admired, generous, successful, loved, approved of. So to keep on this nobly intended path you’re always trying to be good by thinking that you’re not.

So how did this happen? Well, here’s me and my story. You may want to consider penning down your own:

When I was a girl of about 10 I’d bring home almost all A’s on my report card. But all the attention was given to the ‘failure’ of having received my one B(lemish) in math. No matter how hard I tried. And while a ‘B’ is far from failing, I was lured by the possibility that I had a real shot at being good enough if only I fixed this one thing. It would ‘happen for me’ if only I brought home an “unblemished” report card. I didn’t question that this is how I could achieve “good enough.”

So the miraculous happened, but I have no idea how. Perhaps it was just my turn or there was a quota for how many A’s they could give out in math or maybe it was that math suddenly for whatever reason started to feel a little bit easier because I liked the teacher more. Who can really say?

All that is to say that how I ended up with an A in math in addition to all of my other subjects was a mystery to me on the last day of grade 6 at the age of 12.

I was looking forward to congratulations, acknowledgement, gratitude, being asked what I wanted for dinner to celebrate. I had it in my head that I had finally become good enough and that someone would validate that belief so that it could be true. Then I could rid myself of this terrible feeling that ruled everything about how I lived. Even at 12.

But I was raised by people who never thought of themselves as good enough and that “good” was something you needed to trick and train and coerce yourself into being. So all they could pass on was what they thought motivated them and what they thought would motivate me.

I found out that I was still not enough that day. Except I still wanted to be enough. And I felt like I still had a chance. I still had my whole life ahead of me. After. All.

Turns out that I could maybe be good enough if I had neater hair, a room that was tidy all the time, completed chores without being asked or reminded, and a better memory (about the chores).

Failure seemed like it was the only thing I could achieve even when I was achieving. And so it became my goal to always think of and see myself as coming up short no matter the outcome so that I would always be motivated to be perfect and successful as a human being.

So what happens when you grow up learning that striving to be good enough is better then feeling good enough?

Well, it’s kind of ironic: You’re living in a way that has you actually believing that you’re eluding the feeling of inadequacy – at least in appearances. No one would ever guess that you feel like a failure based on your education, your job title, your salary, your fashion sense, your significant other, you fb status – the PR on your life looks great. But you know that it’s a lot of work to keep up looks that don’t make you feel how you want to feel.

Truth is you’d probably snap at anyone that suggested that maybe you didn’t seem happy under your happy exterior.

(Go on, just imagine your reaction to that suggestion to see if anything defensive happens within.)

What we don’t realize is the gift intended should we dare to really feel (sit with + be with) this feeling of inadequacy. We live erroneously expecting ourselves to goes through life without encountering this dragon rather than surrendering to learning to tame it. Instead our culture tries to eradicate or run from it until death. If we sat with him, invited him for a cup of tea, asked him to inform us – he would cease to be formless and scary and overwhelming because he’d guide you by teaching you compassion and how to make meaning from the meaningless.

You don’t see (just yet) that feeling like a failure doesn’t mean that you are actually willing to fail.

Only real failure can give you what the phoenix rising from the ashes has: A new life free from the past rather than building a life out of the past.

Let me explain with a story: I once met with a group of high school girls – grades 9 – 12 in Kuala Lumpur. Daughters of Anglophone expatriates and wealthy local families. Their guidance counselor asked if I would visit with them and talk to them unrelated to the reason for my business there.

Turns out that he was actually very worried because he would talk to these young women about what they “really wanted” and then see them go off in a direction that seemed at odds with and much below their aspirations. He was at a loss as to why and wanted to do something about it. I wasn’t supposed to lecture them or to sway them in any way. We were just going to talk about it. It was the elephant in the room.

So as they huddled around me on the carpeted floor of an air conditioned classroom protected from the stifling heat and humidity outside, I asked them something that I myself needed to seriously ponder even in my highly envied job:

Are you a success if you succeed in getting what you know you can get if you only go after what you know you can get?

They said yes. And of course no one could disagree with that. That’s what mattered. That’s what they were judged against – what they got – not what they tried for and didn’t get.

I wondered where this conversation would go. I mean, they weren’t wrong to see their lives as they did and pursue what they did accordingly.

And then this next set of questions and reflections came to me as I spoke in an unplanned way:

What about the thing that you really, really want that you’re not willing to fail at? You know, the secret thing or the thing your parents say you can do after you get “a real job”? What happens to that dream, wish, aspiration? Where does it go? What happens to you in the process of trying to dismiss it or get everything else done first before you can go near it?

What was funny, that I didn’t expect, was that they knew exactly what I was talking about.

Now we were having a real conversation. About fear. About rejection. About disappointment. And in hearing their thoughtful, un-socialized, completely authentic answers they connected me to the part of me that was just like them. True I was older than them, but no matter how old you are there’s still time to waste isn’t there?

Especially when you think your life has already been written or you’ve gone too far down a certain path – you still have your whole life ahead of you.

Your whole life is what you have yet to live. Tomorrow after all is still …

Undecided. Unwritten. Unlived. Not even yet acquired.

And you get to decide how making money + paying your bills + acquiring things feel – playful and engaging or debilitating and painful.

A fairy tale isn’t really about the happy ending anyway … it’s about the story.

So, you knew you’d be asked: What is that “thing” you most want to succeed at that you know you need to be willing to fail at?

What’s mine? You’re here reading this. Aren’t you?
I am also willing to fail at being a furry mom and a wife.

And if you ask me, that’s the secret to living a life that is both genuine + free.

continue reading →
September 22, 2014 tagged as: ,

how does the world see you?

Of course you can always ask for feedback when you want to know how the world sees you from whomever, but there’s a caveat to the question – wouldn’t you rather know how the world sees you at your best? ‘At your best’ is your ‘money maker’ or ‘hire me’ quality – something about you…

something for when self-doubt visits you on your career path

Believe. It’s one of my favorite words. Ever. The word itself used as a mantra brings me into the present and I use it to help me remember the big picture of life for those not so inspiring days. (Hey – they happen to all of us. And to ignore that or deny that is…

creating career happiness begins with forgiveness

Forgiveness + career. They go together. They belong together. They influence and affect one another. But very rarely are they ever spoken of in the context of togetherness. Too often it is the lack of forgiveness that prevents you from being the person you want to be doing the job you want to be doing….

fairy tale career or fairy tale romance? how do you choose?

Whether in a movie on screen or the movie you call your “real life” – career and romance are pitted against one another to create a great deal of angst as well as drama. Seems hard to create happiness in both. And that’s how it looks in the tabloids too. It’s a choice for sure,…

continue reading →
July 3, 2014 tagged as:

a more beautiful career means learning to ask a more beautiful question

Honestly, I feel really sad (and sometimes mad too) that most people don’t know what a beautiful question is or how to ask one nor how the beauty of a question can dramatically alter the course of one’s life. (In fact, I am painfully aware of how you rob yourself of the kind of experiences…

at work shit happens … and what’s that like for you?

Work is stressful. Incredibly so. But do you know why? It’s because even though we all know that shit happens at work, we don’t want shit to happen at work. It’s like you think you’re just there to do your job. And if that were true, you could just do your job. But work, like…

continue reading →
June 3, 2014 tagged as:

40 ways to create more career possibility for yourself especially when you think it’s not possible

Think of these 40 as a starter kit. The purpose of this list isn’t to judge yourself or others for their (or your own) method. Though you you know and I know that your ego will do that anyway. Your ego doesn’t like hearing that possibility exists when it thinks there are none and certainly…

a ‘what if’ (positive possibility) exercise for career bliss

The one rule: Bask in the glow of your potential. The one instruction: Read the completed exercise aloud to yourself (and/or a loving audience) as often as you wish. The one consideration: Give yourself permission to re-write as you evolve your consciousness and self-concept. You don’t wake up the same every day – so keep…

continue reading →
May 6, 2014 tagged as:

9 writing prompts to help you figure out what’s not working in your career

I once interviewed Lynda Monk and in our interview she said something that I saw for the first time hidden in plain view. It made something that I usually do seem and feel different. Before I tell you what she said, I’m going to metaphorically press “pause” for a moment and tell you about a…

1 / 12 Older