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  • Kim Meninger

Connecting to Our Purpose in Times of Change


Connecting to Our Purpose in Times of Change

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we talk about navigating change. For many of us, the pace and intensity of change throughout our worlds has been destabilizing. As humans, we crave predictability, so change, especially change that’s imposed upon us, can undermine our sense of security in the world. That’s why staying connected to what’s unchanging for us is so important. My guest this week, Dana Shamas, an executive leadership and wellness coach, shares her journey with change. We also explore the power of leaning into our purpose to navigate uncertainty and stay confident during times of change.


About My Guest

Dana supports leaders discover their unique circuitry so they can trust their authentic voice and lead with intuition to create a deeper impact in the world.

She is a woman on a mission to support conscious leaders to break free of old structures that no longer serve and reimagine their personal and professional life with deeper joy and fulfillment.


Dana's engaging spirit and infectious laughter uplift and inspires her audiences. She supports leaders to sync business with wellness, enabling them to be at peak performance whilst maintaining strong mental and emotional health.


With 15 years of experience in transitional economies and entrepreneurship, she is a master at walking forward into the unknown. She loves sharing the tools you need to maintain your connection to clarity and peace, even in a chaotic and volatile world.


Dana has lightened the lives of countless individuals, power guiding them to live a more fulfilling and aligned life.


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Transcript

Kim Meninger

Welcome, Dana, I'm so excited for our conversation today. And I'd love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.


Dana Shamas

Thank you so much for having me, Kim. I am, my name is Dana Shamas. I'm an executive leadership and wellness coach. And I really, you know, my story of how I got here is quite long, I always say that I have lived many lives in one. But what's really exciting for me is where I am now I'm able to bring all these kinds of different parts of my life and different parts of my experience together to really support people and particularly women really be able to step into a place of authentic leadership by listening to their voice, owning their power, owning their energy, and really living their purpose. And so for me, that's so much fun. And it's so amazing to see their transformations. It reminds me every single day that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. But you know, it took a while to get here, I started my career in investment banking and business. And my passion was international development. So I worked in Serbia and Croatia for a while. And then I decided to go to business school for social entrepreneurship. And where I really focused on food and, and starting companies that really have an impact in the world and how you organize companies so that it's not just economic and financial results, but really about the impact you make in the world. And I worked in that area for a while which, you know, allowed me to bring my health and wellness perspective in. But as life would have it, I ended up moving back to Houston where my family is, and I opened up my own wellness center. And so I taught therapeutic yoga breathwork energy were sound work for a number of years, well, I had that location for 10 years. And, and what I found is that most of my clients were business people, they were executives, they were CEOs, they were entrepreneurs that were lawyers and doctors. And so I found that I really had this unique perspective of really being able to bring a practical understanding and awareness of the business world with, together with all these metaphysical tools that I had really spent a very long time diving into meditation, energy work, sound-healing. And so now I actively bring them together in my coaching practice. And so for me, that's it's kind of the meaning of all worlds.


Kim Meninger

Oh, I love that I love when that happens.


Dana Shamas

Yes.


Kim Meninger

So when you are engaging with women that you support, what do they generally need help with? Or what, what how do they present to you?


Dana Shamas

Um, so there's a variety, you know, everybody is different, every body is different, every person is different. But some of the common things are burnout being pulled in a million different directions. And another kind of archetype might be that they really want more that they know that they can do more, and really just need support and help and stepping into that place of more. And often, what I see is that, you know, in this dynamic world that we have, now, there's a lot of change happening, and there's a lot of change that needs to happen. And I find women are particularly well suited to lead this kind of change because it's an inclusive kind of change. And so they often know what needs to be done, or they have a sense or an inner understanding of what needs to be done. But, but maybe there are frameworks, there's belief structures, there's the voice inside their head, that tells them that that they aren't good enough or can't do it or are qualified. And so the work that I do with them is really, you know, figuring out what exactly those are for them, unwinding them from an energetic perspective, and then pairing them with practical tools to go back in and try it a different way. And what's so much fun in this moment, is that, you know, things that weren't possible, or seemed undoable five years ago, like there's space for that kind of change to happen, right? There's space for more voices to be heard. And oftentimes, it's really us stepping into your place of clarity and your place of power and your place of understanding so that you can, you know, what needs to happen to make that change occur. Does that make sense?


Kim Meninger

Yeah, it really doesn't. And I'm thinking about my own story because I'll use that as an example. There were a few things that you said that kind of clicked for me. I think as somebody who is very much a high achiever, and somebody who wants to make an impact, I always wanted to throw myself into whatever it was that I was doing. And there were so many moments during my career where I felt like I was giving so much more than I was getting. And you feel like, because you're sort of wired to want to just keep giving more and more, that if you just keep doing more, eventually, you'll get the return on that investment. Right? And it doesn't always happen. And so for me, and I think my story is probably similar to yours. I feel like I reached this point where I was able to step back and bring all of the different pieces of myself together in this very purposeful way. And I guess my question is, I don't want people to think that they have to leave their job and start a business and do something revolutionary, I feel like it's possible to achieve the kind of change that we're talking about, in incremental ways. And I wonder if you could speak to that a bit.


Dana Shamas

I am so glad you bring that up, because I actually never, ever recommend that people do it the way that I did it. Never. And, and I do believe that there are all these different ways to make an impact no matter where you are. And actually, this is something that's really coming forward right now. And the work that I'm doing. And the guidance that I'm receiving in is that, you know, when we have so much change, right? There's so much change right now. Really connecting into what's eternal and unchanging for you gives a level of safety and clarity and ease that is unparalleled. And what I really see is that that is your purpose, right? And so when you can really connect in to what your purpose and your desire is, it actually doesn't matter where you are, or what environment you're in, if you can bring your whole self and your purpose to the table, the elements around you actually shift so that you allow that that's allowed to shine. And that's allowed to thrive and expand. And that doesn't mean that everything stays the same, right? But it usually doesn't mean you have to leave your job. Or it means that another job offer comes in, like serendipitously that's perfectly on point and like an easeful flow and transition, or there's a new project that opens up or somebody you've always wanted to work with on a project asked you to come and work, you know, when you step into living what you're designed and meant to. And then things tend to flow quite differently from there. And that's, that's really what I encourage people to do. And usually, that takes incremental steps, right? So usually, the first step is really understanding where you're over-giving, right, like where you're giving your energy away to things that aren't amplifying your energy, right, or you're doing things because you feel like you have to, or there's some kind of obligate obligation in what you're doing that drains your energy. And so usually the first step is really understanding, like where your energy is going, and how that's really being utilized. And once you can start to, to say no to probably some things and stronger boundaries, then you have more energy to do what you want and say yes to the things that you do want to do. And that distinction and that empowerment usually brings you to the incremental steps of stepping further into your authentic self, further into your power. Usually, it brings you into a place of leadership.


Kim Meninger

Hmm. I love the way you say that and I'm thinking about, you know, again, kind of come think back to the High Achiever profile because I think that's, that's who listens to this conversation is there sort of this belief that we have, or this conditioning that we have brought with us from other areas, maybe it was a rigor, rigorous academic program, maybe as a competitive work environment, that tells us to embrace challenge, right to work hard to kind of always be doing more and, and that if things are too easy, that we're getting too comfortable. And so I wonder, because you use the term ease, and I want, I want to understand how we can distinguish between the right kind of ease, right, and, and the kind that maybe we feel guilty about that it feels almost shameful, that we're not really reaching our full potential. And I think if we almost flip that around, what I'm hearing you say, when there's too much friction, right, there's probably something wrong. And so I wonder, I wonder if anybody who's kind of on the fence about is, is this just what I'm supposed to experience in terms of challenge and growth and friction? Or have I reached a point where this is harder than it needs to be?


Dana Shamas

Yeah, well, if you think it's harder than it needs to be, it probably is harder than it needs to be. Nine times out of 10. And so I definitely come from the school of conditioning, that you should do things that are really hard, and somehow that makes you better or more worthy. And trust me, that is the path that I chose, as a young human, like, I am severely dyslexic, I chose to major in Russian. Like talk about an experience of complete toil, and like uphill battle, but somehow that was like, good. Um, but, you know, when I say ease, there are there are choices that we make, that make us feel more ourselves, right? And choices that we make, and experiences that we have, that we're like, oh, yeah, I'm really good at this. And I can, like, I can do this, and I do it really well. And it feels amazing, when I do it really well, or when I make all these different bits come together? You know, that's a certain kind of feeling, right? Like, that's a life-enhancing, magical kind of feeling. And what if you were meant to feel like that every single day? Right? What if every choice you made led you to more of that kind of feeling? Right? And that is different than kind of the scenario that you described a challenge, right? Where there's a satisfaction to learning a skill, accomplishing a task, completing a project that is hard and hard to achieve? Like there is a satisfaction of I can do that. It's not necessarily life-enhancing. Does that make sense? Like that typically tends to be kind of an ego, an ego-driven, I can do it versus like a heart. I mean, a heart-driven, inspired. This is amazing. Right? Does that, that?


Kim Meninger

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because I was also thinking earlier about when you're talking about the sense of obligation to do certain things. I think that's an example of that. And I also think of it is beyond obligation, this, this fear that if I don't do it, something bad will happen. Right? So it's kind of when you get through that challenge. It's this few a sense of relief that I made it, but not necessarily that sense of like, I've achieved my purpose, or this is what I'm meant to do. [Yeah, yeah.] Yeah. Can we talk a little bit about energy because you've used that word in different variations? And I wonder what you think, how does energy connect to this conversation and what, what do you mean by energy because I think sometimes we use the words, but we don't define them. And I want to make sure everybody knows what we're talking about.


Dana Shamas

Of course. And so energy can be all, you know, it can be like the energy that you have day to day, right? That's kind of the base level that most people think of energy, you know, into, I feel energized, do I have energy today? And, when, and so that's, you know, That's level one. And so, when I talk about that, you know, that's just your health and well-being, you're well rested, you know, you have balance, you're doing things that, that, that aren't feel supportive, right? And you have your energetic system. So as humans, we have our physical system, and then we have our bio-energetic system, and they are intertwined. 100%. And it would, you know, like, historically, I think people think of energy as kind of woo-woo or out there. But the biofield is actually scientifically researched, there's, you know, you can look it up on in any scientific journal, what a biofield is. And as science becomes more refined, we're able to measure the bio-energetic field more clearly, and kind of in our Western scientific terms, but certainly, in Eastern medicine, they've dealt with energy energetic fields for quite a long time and have quite a large body of research on it. And so when I talk about energy, I typically talk about your bio-energetic field. And you know what most people think about your daily energy level, if your bio-energetic field is healthy and balanced, you have good solid, high energy levels, like your day-to-day energy feels good, right? If you're drained, you're burnt out, you're ill, you have a lot of emotional upset, right? Then there's probably some work that needs to be done on your bio-energetic field that then reflects and more health and well-being and balance in your physical body. Does that make sense?


Kim Meninger

Yes, absolutely. And so how much? And I know that the, there's no, unfortunately, no precise answer to this question. But how much of the, the sort of optimizing for lack of a better term of that energy comes from mindset versus the more physical kinds of efforts? Like, what, what do you see as the, the factors that lead to improved energy?


Dana Shamas

And so all those factors are important. And everybody has their own mix of how they maintain a healthy bio-energetic field, but definitely mindset, mental, emotional state, and really your awareness of how you process energy. So it's one of the reasons why I have focused on breathwork so much because breathwork is really an amazing tool for managing your energy. And when, when you're breathing, you're processing energy because breakfast lifeforce energy, right? If you're not breathing, you're not processing energy. And so if you think about a stressful day, right, there are probably lots of moments and a stressful day where you're where you stop breathing, you have to remind yourself to breathe and or your breathing shallowly. And nine times out of 10. At the end of those days, you feel really exhausted, and maybe even over-emotional, right, one way or another. And so those are indications that you have a lot of unprocessed energy in your field. Because when you go through a day, that there is a lot going on, and you don't process it so you can make it through so that you can get through it. Then you've suppressed or repressed a lot of energy and a lot of emotion throughout the day. Does that make sense?


Kim Meninger

Yeah.


Dana Shamas

And so, you know, we all have those days and happens to all of us because sometimes life is overwhelming, and you just do have to make it through to the other side. But you know, the tool is to really take the time to process all of that afterwards. And so whether that's breathwork whether it's been meditation, whether it's journaling, whether it's quiet time, whether it's walks in nature, all of these activities allow you to process through our chain and the energy of the day. And so, you know, in our busy modern life, you can probably already clicked in your head, you're like, oh, right, that explains why when I get to Friday, like, all I want to do is lay on the couch. Right? Because modern life is very busy, we really don't take those times or those breaks or allow ourselves to really process what's happening. And again, in, in our current environment, where there is an extreme amount of change, you know, what I say is, is, there's just more life happening all the time, when I talk to my clients, and friends and colleagues, everybody just has more life, more major life issues, more change to deal with. And so that actually just requires us at an energetic level, more processing time, right? You have to breathe more, you have to take more downtime, you have to be in nature, to really let everything kind of sink in and process so that you can get back to what is just your energy and your clarity and your purpose.


Kim Meninger

And it's interesting because as you said, there is so much going on that it almost feels counterintuitive, right? Because we feel like I don't have time for what you're describing. I don't have time to walk in nature, I've got things to do. And, and so we're not even necessarily consciously aware of how our energy levels are fluctuating or what's going on because we're just go-go-go-go-go.


Dana Shamas

Yes, and tell until you reach a place of burnout or exhaustion or pain, or you just have decided that it needs to be different. And it can be different, right? You know, the more you learn how to process your own energy, and you know how your own energy works, it's easier to work with it throughout the day. Right? And manage it. And, and when you start, you know, when we talked about the initial process of saying no to things that, that drain your energy, right? The better you get at saying no to things that drain your energy and saying yes to things that enliven your energy, then that processing is very different, right? Because you don't have as many things that you're trying to suppress or repress because you see the pattern it of course, that takes a lot of time to learn and master and what have you. But as you learn to do that, then all of the rest gets easier.


Kim Meninger

So looking at it as an investment for eight as opposed to yet another thing on the to-do list.


Dana Shamas

100%. And that's the other thing, like how do you manage your to-do last right? How many things on the to-do list or shoulds? Or obligations? Right?


Kim Meninger

Yes, that's a really important point, too, because I think there's sort of this. I'm speaking for myself here, but I'm sure others can relate this sort of twisted sense of pride, when I see this really long to-do list, it makes me feel important. I'm like, checking things off the list, right? It feels good. But not all things belong on that to-do list, nor is all of it equal in priority. And we sort of live our lives chained to these to-do lists without taking the time to actually examine and consciously reevaluate what actually belongs there.


Dana Shamas

Yeah. And like, I mean, going back to something you said, you're a person who like is focused on impact, right? And you want to make impact. If you looked at your to-do lists differently, and instead of saying, what are the things I have to do, if you looked at your to-do list, and we're like, what were the things on this list that would have the biggest impact on my happiness today?


Kim Meninger

Yeah.


Dana Shamas

The list changes.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, I think that's a really good way to think about it. And I go back to what you said about your own purpose and kind of what your core values are. And that's different for everyone. But oftentimes, our to-do lists are oriented towards helping somebody else’s core values.


Dana Shamas

100% Yeah, especially as women, right, like, somehow that's in though, I mean, not somehow it's in the wiring to help everybody else's to-do list, you know? Yeah, it's a big one.


Kim Meninger

Yeah. So I like what you said about, we may be going along until we reach pain, right? Until we reach a, unfortunately, a crisis point where we burnout or I've heard countless examples in the past few years alone of people who have just reached rock bottom, they've reached a breaking point and they could no longer ignore what they had been suppressing. My goal, as I'm sure it is, yours is to help people reach, reach this before they get to that point, right? So when you talk about some of these activities or exercises, is there one starter exercise that you would recommend that sort of simple and sustainable?


Dana Shamas

I mean, I actually think from this conversation that To Do List exercises, number one, you know, and so, so what I had just said, is looking at your to-do list and evaluating it based on impact, that can be impact on your happiness, impact on your purpose, impact on your joy, impact, whatever your focus or intention is for the week, maybe it's ease, right? And then the other way to really look at the to-do list is I do you know, if you write everything on your to-do list, and then I do a quick meditation of connecting in, centering along your midline, and really asking your inner knowing your Higher Self, your intuition, what has to be done today, right? To really like what has to be done, and open your eyes. And the first three things like that your eye goes to circle them and do them, and see what happens. Like, notice what happens.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, I like that, too. There's just more intentionality and consciousness to it that way that, I think otherwise, it's just a slog of, okay, next, next.


Dana Shamas

Yeah. And, and, you know, like, lots of times it's busy work or stuff that doesn't really need to be done, or stuff that somebody else can do or somebody else's responsibility, or that, you know, like, maybe you can delegate to somebody else, right? [Yeah.] So all those kinds of things, allow you to whittle that to-do list down and free up a lot of your time and your mind space, to, you know, either do some self-care practices go for a walk, or what have you. But that one for this conversation, that seems like a really easy like starting point.


Kim Meninger

I then freeze. That's exactly what I was hoping for something that people could kind of say, Okay, I'm gonna start here.


Dana Shamas

Yeah, yeah.


Kim Meninger

Go ahead.


Dana Shamas

And because like, it is a busy world, there are so many things to do, right? You know, it is important to see what you cannot like, what things you don't have to do. It creates more time for yourself, right, that, that's what, it's a huge thing that most people want more time.


Kim Meninger

Yes, that's right. And I think there are often limiting beliefs that we carry around with us that tell us and maybe in some ways, these are ego-driven. And in other ways, they're just more you know, fear avoidance kinds of things. But these are, only I can do this. Whether you're a parent or whether you're, you know, a manager, there's so many things that we convince ourselves, no one else can help us with this is this is my work to be done and to be able to look at your to-do list. And I often recommend that people ask themselves, like, two fundamental questions of is this the highest use of my skill set? And is this the highest use of my time right now? Right? And maybe there's somebody else who for them, that would be a great use of their time and skill set, and that it's not that we would just be burdening someone with our trash, it would be thoughtful growth opportunities for other people.


Dana Shamas

100% And that's really how you widen the net of happiness and joy. Right? When you give other people like when you invite other people to share their gifts, their wisdom, their purpose, right, that actually just enhances it for you and for them.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, and I think that's a really good frame, especially for women who feel guilty about not doing everything themselves.


Dana Shamas

100% Yes, you giving yourself the free freedom to do your purpose and your zone of genius, actually invites everybody else to do the same.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, I think that's a really empowering way to think about it. Yeah. So anything that I didn't ask you, Dana, that you think about a lot, anything else.


Dana Shamas

Gosh, there's so much that I think about all the time. The, you know, I would just say really, as I would just encourage people, you know, we are in a time of immense change. And we are in a time of immense opportunity. So tune in to what your heart wants, and tune in to what your desire and your purpose is. And then really find the resources to help you cultivate the courage to take steps forward. We need each and every one of you in your heart and in your purpose, during this time. And I, I just think there will be amazing things that unfold around you when that happens. And I know amazing things will unfold in the world for all of us, as more and more people step into that place. And so I just encourage everyone to find the resources and by resources, I really mean support. Right? Find the what you need to help you get there.


Kim Meninger

That’s a beautiful vision and a great way for us to wrap up today for anybody who wants to learn more about you, Dana, where can they find you?


Dana Shamas

Yeah, I'd say visit my website, DanaShamas.com. And I'll have you know, my bio more information, my products and my work. I do a group coaching programs, one-to-one coaching, I host retreats. So there are lots of different opportunities and ways to work with me. And certainly, I have some free meditations and amazing free products up there as well. So check it out


Kim Meninger

What... We will link to that in the show notes as well.


Dana Shamas

Beautiful. Thank you.


Kim Meninger

Thank you so much again for this great conversation.


Dana Shamas

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.


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