Victoria Gigante is an author, coach, yoga therapist, and co-founder of the initiative The Higher Purpose Project. She is dedicated to helping others discover their passions and find their purpose in life. To her, work and life are one and the same.
But her life used to be different. I met Victoria in 2006 while she was the Director of an Academic Counseling Center at a Federal Military Academy. She had all the right things but wasn’t content with her life. So she decided to make some changes. Here is her story:
SAEAH: Tell us about your journey to finding fulfilling work.
VICTORIA: My life was very different: I was married, had a mortgage, was the Director of an Academic Counseling Center at a Federal Military Academy, was a LT in the NAVY, was enrolled in a PhD program at an Ivy League University, and had two cats and a Toyota Prius. To get to where I am now, I had to trust myself enough to give that all up. So in the span of a week, I left all of that behind and bought a one-way plan ticket to Brazil. I had no clue what I was going to do, but I trusted myself enough to know that I’d figure it out. It was years of personal exploration, failing forward with external ventures, and trial and error that got me to where I am now. I dug deep and did the work and I continue to do the work. At first, it was terrifying. But it was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. I’ve never looked back.
SAEAH: What are some of the challenges you faced on your journey?
VICTORIA: When I first decided to change my life, I had no clue what I wanted. All I knew was that something needed to change. It was a “choose yourself or lose yourself” moment. I felt like I was dying inside, and as a result my physical body actually was dying – I was sick all the time. My external environment was a direct reflection of how I felt – which meant that it was confusing, uninspired, emotionless, and out of alignment. So the biggest challenge on this journey was slowing down and giving myself time to heal and refocus. Initially, I had to do this with no support network while physically feeling horrible and without any real plan or direction. I just had to trust that everything would be okay. I made some decisions that ended up not being what I truly wanted in the long-run, but these decisions were just part of the evolution – part of the journey I needed to take to truly lead me to what I actually want and who I actually am as a person. I’m still on that journey. That’s the thing you come to realize: It never stops. There really are no mistakes and there really is nothing to “find.” You’ve got everything you need in this moment. When you realize that, nothing seems like a failure anymore and the challenges become less scary. In fact, you learn to embrace the challenges because you know that’s where the growth is. I drive towards fear rather than run from it because it’s the fast track to moving forward.
SAEAH: Describe your work week.
VICTORIA: Since I run my own business, there aren’t defined weekends. My day-to-day schedule is flexible and varies based on clients and projects, but in general it flows as follows: I wake up at 4 am and immediately hop onto my yoga mat. A short yoga/meditation practice is followed by breakfast. Then I dive into an hour of computer work. This is when I check my email, do all my social media activities, follow-up with clients, and write my Daily Practice Prompt for my Facebook page. After that, I head outdoors for an hour-long walk. The rest of my day is structured around what I have to get done and how many clients I have, but I always head to a local coffee shop for inspiration. In the afternoon, I try to take another walk or go for a hike. I stay away from the computer as much as I can throughout the day, spend as much time outdoors as possible, and walk while I coach clients over the phone. One day per week I try to completely detach from technology. When I road trip and/or travel (which is pretty much what I do full-time), I talk to clients while driving and schedule work breaks at local coffee shops with Wi-Fi. I check my email and post on social media one more time in the evening before disconnecting for the night.
SAEAH: What does fulfillment mean to you?
VICTORIA: To me, fulfillment means this: “If you were given $10,000,000 right now – what would you change about your life?” My answer? “Nothing.” I love my life. I wouldn’t change a thing – because if I wanted to change something, well… I would. That’s fulfillment. Looking around and knowing that I created this lifestyle for myself, and believing that I can create whatever else I want at any moment in time. The number of people I impact and the value that I bring to people is something I can continue to evolve. Fulfillment is feeling that freedom and knowing you’re bringing value at the same time. It’s owning your decisions and knowing that you’re the author of your own life.
SAEAH: Do you have any advice for us work fulfillment seekers?
VICTORIA: Look around you. Wherever you are in your life – for better or for worse – you created the situation you’re currently in. Embrace the parts you love, change the parts you don’t. Keep evolving, tweaking, and moving forward. You’re not a victim. Take responsibility for your life by taking action.
SAEAH: What’s on your nightstand?
VICTORIA: I recently made the decision to temporarily stop consuming content, which includes reading new books. Therefore, I’m currently revisiting some of my go-to books for timeless wisdom, reference, and reminders. One book that’s always on that list (and on my imaginary nightstand – because I don’t even have a bed!) is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Victoria is currently working on an e-course on how to develop a daily practice, and is in the process of writing another book. She is organizing a Higher Purpose Project Summit planned for August in Oregon. Until the Summit, she’ll be road tripping around the US giving workshops. This trailer will be her home.
Learn more about Victoria at her website where you can access her free e-course and e-book “21 Days to a Daily Practice.” She posts a daily practice prompt to her Facebook page, and has written a book called 365 Daily Practice Prompts. She co-founded The Higher Purpose Project, “a global initiative that brings together individuals of all ages and cultures committed to elevating their impact in the world.” She also hosts a podcast, The Higher Purpose Project, free for download on iTunes.
Portrais of Fulfillment is a series that brings you stories of people who have found fulfilling work that they love. Don’t know where to start? Read this article on “How to Find Fulfilling Work.” Have a job you love? Contact us. We’d love to feature you!