Nikki Shilling is a yoga studio owner from the seaside town of One Mile Beach in Port Stephens, about two hours north of Sydney. Here’s her story:

I’ve been self-employed for 13 years teaching yoga up in Port Stephens, and had the idea of creating a year-long program to help people work towards positive change in their lives. Changing habits isn’t an easy thing to do. We need support over a much longer time than we tend to believe, to help those changes to stick.

I’ve managed to overcome an eating disorder and I smoked for 10 years but gave it up. I’ve also suffered from depression on and off and have been through some dramatic life experiences. I know that sometimes we just need to shift our perspective and let go of what we think it means to have a reasonable outcome. Our media sets high expectations of dramatic, fast change that’s just not realistic or helpful for people. We have to get to know ourselves – to create time for ‘self-study’ to discover what it is that “leads us into temptation” in the first place. Transformation happens when we change the way we think. It’s more powerful and longer lasting than simply changing what we do.

Stop dreaming and start launching

To stop dreaming about this program and actually launch it, I reached out to Brook and did her Hustle & Heart program in 2016. While I really don’t like hype, I do need inspiration and I really like Brook’s realness and her highly practical approach to being bigger and bolder in business. I needed Brook to push me and to help me realise that I do have something worthwhile and interesting to say, because without that, I tend to think that I have to go gently and not rock the boat or I’ll annoy people.

Through coaching with Brook, she focused me on compiling a list of ‘most likely’ candidates to do my first year-long program, which I named ‘Active Intentions’, and to focus the majority of my marketing efforts there. To be honest, I was skeptical that sending lots of emails would work. Inviting people to participate in my program really pushed me to be confident in how I expressed my hopes for the program. But I did it and got my target number of 10 people committed! It’s been so fantastic to see this long-held plan come to fruition.

The group connected really well and a couple of people really came out of themselves and made some pretty radical life changes. Now that I’ve run Active Intentions, I’m in the process of turning it into an online program, supported with live meet-ups and events. I’m also creating additional yoga materials to sell as part of a monthly membership at my studio.

Nikki Shilling yogaFinding time amid a busy life

With two boys aged eight and thirteen and a business to run, I didn’t have a lot of time to complete Hustle & Heart. But it was important to me to complete it. I had planned to do it and I needed to be able to approach it differently as I didn’t have great chunks of time to devote. The way the program was packaged meant I could piecemeal it. I put the times I would do it into my diary and printed the lessons out to read with my coffee, scribbling notes all over them.

There was always something for me to use. One of the things that had a big result was the way I wrote to my email database – far differently than normal. Using enticing language, I had a lot of responses from people who liked that my language was far more personal and relatable.

Challenging our conditioning and perspective

There’s so much smugness online and it just makes you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough or keeping up. So many women tend to feel guilty about this, that, or the other. Hustle & Heart really challenged me to think differently – to let go of the way we’ve been conditioned to see the world. I wanted to help others see that the way things can sometimes be depicted online has little basis in reality.

Your mind wants to believe stuff but that doesn’t necessarily make it true. The amount of things that fly through your social media feed that are aimed at people’s insecurities is unbelievable. Hustle & Heart helped me appreciate how I, and others, were buying into crap that wasn’t useful, wasn’t helpful and wasn’t true. It helps me examine the messages that are coming at us – and those that we’re putting out in our business – with fresh eyes.

Values-based business to define your difference

The concept of values-based business really resonates with me. Since doing the program, I’ve revised my website to use clearer language about what I offered, who I was, and expectations of clients. I’ve become far more confidence since reexamining my branding, positioning and reputation. I have far more experience than I tend to give myself credit for. I now notice and believe people when they pay me a compliment. It’s helped me understand trustworthiness and how it goes hand-in-hand with business.

I’ve reinforced my business boundaries, particularly as they relate to the concept of each and every business having a different ideal client. It’s easy to accept all clients and work, but that’s not smart, not always profitable! The Hustle & Heart program helped me understand that saying no isn’t selfish and see where in my life I was wasting time with things that didn’t align with my goals. I’ve turned down work and referred people on, and bought back my sanity, downtime and peace-of-mind.

I’ve got a lot of materials from Active Intentions now, and a structure that I can replicate online. I’ve bought a video camera and the next goal is bring this sense of community that I’ve created – and that I found through Hustle & Heart – into the online environment.

Everyone – in business and otherwise – needs more support. Everyone believes everyone else has it all together and knows what they’re doing. I want to support people to be more gentle on themselves as they make small positive changes that lead towards bigger, more fundamental change, just how Hustle & Heart supported me.