What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

One Simple, Profound Way to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Get Clarity

Over the last couple of weeks, an unexpected and amazing thing happened as I made a commitment to spend ten minutes every day focused entirely on breathing. And perhaps you are crossing paths with these words because it’s a message for where you are in your life right now, too.

Here’s what I’ve been doing, and I challenge you to try it this week too. I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes. I close out all distractions, place my hand on my tummy so I can feel it rise and fall with each inhale and exhale, and focus my mind only on the sensations I feel as the air travels through my mouth to my diaphragm and back out again. That’s it. Pretty simple. My mind wanders a bit and I have to refocus. Suddenly, I remember calls I need to make and the mozzarella cheese I keep forgetting to pick up at the store. But I gently bring my thoughts back to the sensations, the rise and fall of my tummy, and how rejuvenating it feels to really breathe.

And as I have done this for two weeks, something profound has happened. I’ve gotten clarity on the vision I’ve been pondering for a long time about this next season of my life and business.  I wasn’t trying to get clarity. I was just trying to breathe better, meditate, and connect with God, with no particular agenda in mind.  And as I did that, a beautiful agenda showed up. Racking your brain to identify goals, next steps, purpose is an uphill climb. But in a relaxed state, free from thinking, it seems suddenly the space is created for fresh, new insights to emerge.

If you’re like most people, you take shallow breaths – all day long. In fact, you might be doing it right now. So go ahead, stop for a few moments and take a deep breath. Place your hand on your tummy and focus your sense on simply feeling the sensation of your breath moving through your body. Let your tummy rise while your chest remains still, just the way a baby breathes. A baby breathes that way because it is natural. It was the way we were created to breathe.

Breath is life, and when we feel stressed or stuck or anxious, a natural physiological response is to cut off the flow of breath. So we take short breaths or shallow breaths into the chest, but not deep into the diaphragm. But when you breathe slowly and deeply, that flow returns. Your heart rate slows down. Your shoulders relax. Your thoughts refocus.

It is these moments that you can get centered again. It is pretty amazing that something so simple and quick can shift your thoughts, your mood and even your reactions in a profound way.  If you feel particularly anxious or stressed, try this for a little rejuvenation and clarity:

  • Sit straight up or lie comfortably on your back.
  • Breathe through your mouth as much air as you can take in, then suck in just one more bit of air.
  • Hold for three seconds.
  • Push all of the air out with your mouth.
  • Repeat at least ten, but not more than 20 times.


My challenge to you:

Breathe intentionally every day this week.  Set a reminder on your phone.


Journaling assignment:

What time of day could you block out ten minutes to slow down and simply focus on deep breathing? What clarity would you love to get in the next few weeks that stress, overload or anxiety seem to be blocking?

3 Ways Successful Women Never Stop Learning

There’s something in me that gets all giddy at the thought of learning new and fascinating information. It may explain why there are three open books on my nightstand as I type these words, each in the process of being read. It may explain why, in advance of a visit to Italy, my husband’s gift of an Italian language course excited me so much I had butterflies as I started listening to it. It also explains why, along with my team, I am developing a new online series of courses specifically designed for inspiring and successful women.  On the VIA Character Strengths Survey, “love of learning” is one of my signature strengths.

Since you’re on my email list or read my blog, my guess is that you love learning, too.  The most successful women never stop learning. But there are some key ways to direct your love of learning that can boost your ability to reach your goals and achieve the vision you have for your life. Are you doing these three?


  1. They study their failures.

It is easy to become discouraged by your failures. But the wisest thing you can do is learn from them. What didn’t work? What will you do differently in the future? Was there any aspect of the situation that was positive – that worked well? It is important to do more of what works and improve what doesn’t. Think of an area where you are lacking the success you desire. What lesson(s) is life offering you about your failures right now?


  1. They don’t see challenges as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Those who have a growth mindset see challenges as an opportunity to learn. Consider your biggest challenge right now. What would you do differently if you approached your challenge as an opportunity? What would shift? How could you become better and wiser as a result?


  1. They invest in their own personal development.

The most successful women read a lot.  Be curious about the world around you. Use books as a tool. Take informal classes. Be open to learning. Even though you know a lot because you’ve experienced a lot, there is so much yet to be discovered. In what way(s) do you want to develop yourself personally? Do you want to learn more about how to handle your money? Become better at building strong friendships and meeting likeminded people? Learn how to control your eating and exercise habits? Grow spiritually and learn to trust God more? Figure out how to excel in your profession?  Bullet point your own personal development plan and start growing intentionally.


My challenge to you:

Never stop learning. Identify something you want to learn in this season of your life.


Journaling assignment:

What lesson is a recent failure offering you?  What would you do differently if you approached your current challenge as an opportunity rather than a threat? What skill or knowledge do you want to develop personally over the next year? Jot down a personal development bullet point list of things you want to learn.


Stay tuned for the launch of the Successful Women’s Academy. Join our mailing list to be the first to get special rewards and discounts at www.vbsuccessacademy.com.

For more about what successful women do differently, check out our Successful Women Think Differently 7-CD course and the book Successful Women Think Differently.