Notes To My Younger Self

Today I’m posting as part of a blog crawl to help spread the word about The Post College Survival Kit. A huge group of amazing bloggers are sharing what we learned the hard way – so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships. 

Notes To My Younger Self - Kyla Roma

Becoming yourself is not for the faint of heart, but it’s well worth the effort. If I could pass some advice back in time to my younger self, this is what I’d want her to know:

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Your intuition is a muscle: start to use it!

Tuning into my intuition in the past few years has had a huge positive impact on my life! It’s helped me fine tune the direction of my career, recognize mis-matches between clients and myself, and to take the reins on a big business development that will be launching this winter.

But for years, when my inner voice spoke to me I couldn’t tell if my worries, ego, or intuition was speaking up. I always wished that it was easier to tell the difference between those competing parts of myself, but I’ve only found out how when I took the time to learn.

What’s helped is taking dedicated time to just be still and become aware of what kid of thoughts my mind starts running toward. I’ll identify the kinds of thoughts that I’m having by name – like “Worrying”, “Planning”, or that old classic “Judgement”, and then try to let the thought pass without getting swept up in it. It’s a form of meditation that’s a great way to take the temperature on how you’re doing on a given day. The effort has helped me recognize when I’m caught up in the moment, or when what I’m feeling comes from a deep, core priority  that I need to pay attention to.


What other people think of you is none of your business

In my early twenties I was incredibly curious about what other people thought of me. And I was more invested in what they thought that I would admit to myself. When you are in the middle of defining yourself, or when you’re unsure about the direction your path will take, it’s comforting to get positive feedback because it makes you feel like you’re on the right track. The thing is, there is no right track in life other than being yourself and doing what makes you happy!

We all have incomplete understandings of who the people around us are, so we fill in the gaps for ourselves. If someone accidentally puts you in the wrong “box” in their mind, and then gets upset when you’re being who you are? That’s about them, not you. Laugh about it and keep on shining.

The sense of certainty you get from someone else giving you a pat on the back doesn’t hold a candle to the feeling of knowing who you are and accepting yourself – imperfections and all.


Check in and see if your normal is normal

One of the biggest surprises of my early twenties was finding out that I’d been living with clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder for years, and that life could feel totally different than it did. I’d always been a worrier, it didn’t take much to exhaust me, and I’d always had bouts of deep sadness, but I thought that everyone experienced those things.

Use your curiosity to consider your experience as a person in this world, and don’t assume that your normal is what everyone else is living through too. Speak to your friends, speak to your family, and speak to your doctor about anything that comes between you and living a happy, full life.

You could gain years you would have otherwise spent trying to figure out what’s wrong – and your whole life could be the other side of that discovery.

Consider the cost of risks you don’t take

When I quit my day job in late 2009 I’d done some groundwork to help me feel confident that I could make it on my own – for a few months at least. It was scary to take that leap – but it was made easier by the fact that I had a clear picture of what I was risking if I didn’t try to become self employed. On some level, I had felt out of place and uneasy in every job I’d ever had – and if I didn’t try to make something for myself, I could picture what it would feel like to live with that every day of my life. And I didn’t want to find out how accurate my imagination was!

Re-Set Your Goals (Before They Level You!)

Stop Chasing Worthiness, Be Still & Listen to What Makes Your Heart Sing by Kyla Roma

The summer is usually one of my favourite times, and I’ve been anticipating this year’s more than I usually would. I’ve designed blogs and websites full time for almost four years but for the past year, instead of one-on-one client work I’ve craved blogging, being involved in my community and creating online courses.

If you’ve read my blog, you already know I love goal setting. I’m a complete day planner / agenda / goal setting / personal development / journaling nerd and for a long time I blogged my monthly goals here.

Usually my goals are focused around actions I can take on a daily basis, and the ways that I want to be in the world, but this year for the first time I set a big scary goal: I wanted to make $50,000 this year.

Being in my third year of working for myself this was scary! While I track how much I earn every month I’ve never set concrete financial goals before, and this would be my biggest earning year yet. I was determined and excited about it- and I knew that I could hit those numbers if I just hustled hard enough.

At the time, this wasn’t my primary goal of the year. It was a way of expressing that I was transitioning from working with clients on large scale one-on-one projects, to consulting work, speaking and teaching classes. But there was something about that number that stuck in my head.

Instead of transitioning my work from one-to-one to one-to-many, I started thinking $50,000.

Instead of thinking about how I want to blog consistently and be a better community member, I started worrying about $50,000.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line I pinned my worthiness to something I couldn’t control.

As it always does, this year life has happened. I’ve taken time off to travel, said yes to working with past clients on updating their sites, had a number of projects triple in scope, and have prioritized friendships, family, and experiencing the world around me.

It felt great and is completely in line with my priorities! But on paper, I was a failing.

At first I thought there was no harm in keeping that $50,00 number around on my planning sheets. I would still update them as an income tracking tool, no big deal! But by June I wasn’t updating them anymore because there was $50,000 staring me down every time I opened them up.

I know that it’s a fictional $50,000. It doesn’t really exist. It’s a phantom, an idea, and a benchmark that I made up.

And while I know it’s not where my happiness or worthiness lives, the frustration and claustrophobia it made me feel was very real.

We’ve all had these moments and so often they’re tied to numbers, aren’t they?

It can be pageviews, dollars earned, days of vacation, comments on a post or pounds on a scale. If it’s easy to measure, it’s easy for us to weaponize against ourselves.

After floundering for a few months, telling myself that I “couldn’t” blog while I had client work on my to do list and living too much in my head I went to my family’s cabin earlier this month. Limited internet and distractions resulted in dialing up the volume on my internal monologue and intuition, and I finally realized what had been feeling so wrong. I needed to re-set my priorities and goals for the year now, before they levelled me!


Here’s what I did & how to re-set your goals if they don’t serve you:

1. Define Your Values

Your values (or priorities) are the big picture, overarching themes you’d like to focus on through your actions. These can help give you a framework for what you’ll say yes to and make time for, so your year starts to take the shape that you’ve set for it.

2. Find Ways To Express Your Values Through Action

The trick for this part is to balance being specific with what you want with being specific about how you accomplish that. If you vow to run a mile a day but get injured, how do you negotiate that? Make sure you don’t paint yourself into a corner.

Ready to break out of negative thinking?

One of the things that I find the most frustrating about day to day life is that I’m constantly beating myself up or being a downer.  I don’t even mean to, I quite like myself and my life is (mercifully, at the moment) pretty friction free. But even with all the luck in the world, most times it’s hard to stop the negative thoughts that run through our minds when they’re left undistracted.

How to break out of negative thinking (at

Sometimes the negativity is hard to miss, and my doubts and insecurities will announce themselves with trumpets and fanfare, shouting and pointing fingers like lives hang in the balance… when I’m only making dinner.

But often it’s more subtle. I’ll be doing something normal, that’s not even unpleasant, but that stands between me and the rest of my day. I’ll be cleaning, and I’ll realize that while my body’s working and getting things done, my mind has drifted and my inner monologue was taken over by a sulky teenager who can’t believe I’m forcing her to do this.

And, on principle, she refuses to do anything without my knowing that how unhappy she is.

Us and our sulky teenage brains.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

I realized this about myself last year when I was trying to get back into working out. “Trying to get back into working out” is one of my perpetual hobbies, and for most of my life I’ve really, genuinely resented having to exercise. But last year, for the first time I got curious about why that is, and started to parse out exactly what it was about it I disliked.

When I thought about it, I saw that I don’t mind sweating, I don’t mind being active, and I actually really like feeling accomplished, strong, and having an endorphin rush after working out.

Counter to what I’d always thought, my experience showed me that I like the process of working out and I like how I feel after I workout… so what was going on here?

Once this dawned on me, I decided to try working out while being aware of my thoughts… and what I found shocked me. I don’t like exercising because while I’m doing it I whine and moan about how hard it is, no matter what I’m doing. I watch the clock and amplify every negative part of the experience, just out of habit.

I realized that I wasn’t actually avoiding exercise, I was avoiding spending time with myself when my thoughts are so negative and miserable!

Negative thinking is a hard habit to kick. It’s hardwired into us and is key to our survival. As humans, we still have deep-seated prey instincts in us. The only way to keep ourselves safe when we lived in tribes was to identify who was with us and who was against us, as quickly as possible, preferably from a safe distance away.

So we look for differences. That one piece of food that looks a little different from the rest? It could kill us. New people we haven’t seen before could turn our lives upside down. Having ancestors who were really good at assuming the worst, or at least being on the look out for it, is a huge part of how you and I are here today.

So we actually have sulky teenage caveman brains that have been with us since the dawn of time. This should be easy to fix, right?

Here’s what has helped me:


1. Say, “Hello, Sweetie” to old habits, instead of goodbye

Just because we have a habit doesn’t mean it has to rule us. The simple act being aware of our inner monologue is a huge toward stepping in a new direction. Instead of being swept away by a negative thinking pattern, when you notice it happening, take a deep breath and say hello to that pattern.

I literally say “hello, sweetie” in my mind when I slip into negative thinking, which is a Doctor Who reference that delights me, and that moment of delight helps stop me from beating myself up. When it stops delighting me, I’ll choose something new.

2. Do some heart math & fear busting

If you’re out of the practice of positive thinking, it might be difficult to start, and you will probably feel a little awkward and strange about cheering yourself on. But to counteract the habit of name calling or internal grumbling, you will need to go further than to stop thinking negatively, because there’s probably a slight chance that you won’t stick the landing perfectly every time. At least then, you’ll still end up with a net positive.

Sometimes just the idea that you’re going to overcompensate for negativity with positive thoughts can bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Please know that it’s fine to feel that way. Your inner teenage cave-person is trying to keep you safe, but there’s no danger here, no one can hear your thoughts! It’s even fine if your negative thinking starts asking, “What’s next, finding out when mercury’s in retrograde you hippy?”. You can respect mercury’s privacy or be all up in it’s charts, but consider this an experiment and see how it goes for a 1 – 2 weeks. You have nothing to lose, and procrastination is all about fear. Call it’s bluff!

3. Invent a positivity trigger

The most important list I’ve ever made

Sometimes making plans is asking for trouble, and as a relentless planner part of me is always tempting fate. Last weekend, after feeling off for a few days, the unexpected happened and my depression flared up with a vengeance. It’s always frustrating to have your plans derailed, but to have them derailed by a tidal wave of hopelessness and exhaustion is even worse.

The weekend was hard, but I finally discovered what had thrown me off balance: I’d been taking cold medicine that interacts with my medication. (How boring is it to have your “kryptonite” be decongestants?) Thankfully, by the end of the weekend my energy was on the rise, and I was feeling more and more like myself.

Podcast Recommendations for Creatives, Small Business Owners, Bloggers & Pop Culture Lovers

One of my favourite ways to stay focused on my passions is to keep my head in the game. No matter where you work or what you love, it can be hard to make that your full time work- but that doesn’t mean that you can’t live your passion. How do you do it? Find new ways to explore your passions!

Podcasts for Bloggers and Creatives on

A simple way to live your passion is to start seeking out media that’s focused on the things you love.

Podcasts are on demand radio shows that you can download and then listen to while you’re on the go. You can listen using an app, like the built in podcast app on Apple devices or using Stitcher on almost any device.

These are some of my favourite  podcasts that I’ve found over the years, and my suggestions for starting points to make this part of your life…


Podcast Recommendations for Creatives, Small Business Owners, Bloggers & Pop Culture Lovers


Blogging & Business

After The Jump
Design*Sponge blogger, Gracy Bonney talks design, blogging, and what it takes to keep a creative project going over the long term.

Glambtion Radio 
Women business owners who pull in six figure incomes (and beyond!) are profiled and share their stories, best decisions, and what they would recommend if they were starting today. A motivational resource to get you thinking big!

The Smart Passive Income Podcast
Interested in making money online? This podcast has details on affiliate programs, selling online, content marketing, and everything you need to know to make your blog into a money maker.

Elise Gets Crafty
Elise Blaha takes readers behind the scenes in blogging and small business. A great resource for bloggers and crafty ladies who are starting out in online business.

The Tim Ferriss Show
Business junkie/genius, New York Times best selling author and blogger, Time Ferriss is a has just started his own podcast! He interviews people and offers insider insight that’s hard to come by and tested on a huge scale.

Small Business, Big Marketing
Interviews with business owners about how they got where they are, delivered in Australian accents.
Content Warfare
A new podcast that focuses on creating content. It’s great for bloggers & business owners



Kyla Roma
(plug alert!) My monthly podcast is delivered by email, and talks about creativity, productivity, living well, and having a life that you absolutely adore from the moment you wake up.

The Art of Simple
Simplicity blogger and mama, Tsh from The Art of Simple talks with friends about blogging, living simply, and making life work. This podcast is great for parents, and for anyone wanting to tone down the busy in their lives.

Burning Down The House That Perfectionism Built

Kyla Roma - Burning Down The House Perfectionism BuiltLook out, perfectionism. We’re coming for you!

Today I’m excited to share a podcast interview that I did with Sarah from The Sarah R. Bagley Podcast: A Recovering Perfectionist’s Guide to a B+ Life.

First let’s clarify something: Sarah’s ideas about living a B+ life aren’t about settling for something that’s less than great, it’s about living in that territory of “good enough” that can make a perfectionist’s skin crawl!

But we all know that when we can’t accept things as being “good enough” and move forward, that we become paralyzed.

Our creative work never sees the light of day, we beat ourselves up, and redouble our efforts to be perfect.

Or in Sarah’s case, you start talking to other people about how they’ve dealt with it in their lives and keep pushing past it!

In the interview I share:

  • What I love about living in Winnipeg, Canada
  • How I came to blogging and started working online
  • What perfectionism means to me, as someone who’s self-taught in their field
  • How I manage having Generalized Anxiety Disorder & Depression and working for myself
  • Where I’ve given myself permission to suck
  • How I deal with being open to online criticism (a perfectionist’s worst nightmare!)
  • How I’ve made ease into my top priority in life, and have learned how I can be a high achiever in a way that actually feels good to live!


Listen to the episode here:


And make sure that you visit Sarah’s blog and subscribe to her podcast in iTunes, and don’t forget to rate it if you like what you hear.

What I Learned (And How I Ended Up On Stage) At Pioneer Nation

Pioneer Nation LogoWhen I started working online, I worked hard. Really hard. But I didn’t work smart.

I tried to blog my way to success. I (wildly) undercharged. I wasn’t clear on my overall vision. And just for good measure, I invented flaming hula hoops for myself to jump through instead of just asking for what I needed. (Thank goodness you know better than I did!)

I’ve come a long way since I started working for myself full time, and as I slowly got out of my own way and experienced some success, I made a promise to myself:

“As soon as you can make it happen? You are going to a small business conference to learn from people who are killing it online.”

When I found out about Pioneer Nation, I knew that I had to go. My  obsession with passion for learning is only marginally edged out by my passion for getting things done. So a two-day, action oriented conference in Portland put on by the brilliant team behind World Domination Summit? It was the answer to my geeky prayers.

But for a long time? This was the stuff of my nightmares.

There are so many reasons I had never been to a conference like this before. Some of them might be running through your head now:

  • “I don’t know enough about business, and I’m going to end up looking foolish.”
  • “I’m an introvert!” */hides under desk*
  • “I don’t have a real business idea yet.”
  • “I’m just a blogger.”

Add to that travelling to a new city alone, depression and an anxiety disorder and (if I want to) I can find a solid reason to stay at home from pretty much everything.


And somehow, instead, this is what happened…

Pioneer Nation Kyla Roma In Class

I workshopped and learned invaluable lessons in classes along with my business heroes, like Laura Roeder.

I took notes on my iPad on everything everyone said, and made friends with the people around me

I took notes on everything, and made friends with the people around me in every session

I made a spur of the moment connection with one of the conference organizers, and suddenly Chris Guillebeau was introducing me to get on stage!

I had fun a chance connection with one of the conference organizers, and soon Chris Guillebeau was introducing me on stage!

I had the opportunity to speak in front of 300+ people and get business advice from attendees!

I had the opportunity to speak in front of 300+ people and get business advice from attendees!

Everyone thought I was winning and charming (may or may not be true, but you get the picture)

Everyone thought I was winning and charming.

Alright, I’m teasing you with the last caption, but it was such an incredibly fun experience that it pretty much felt like that.


What I learned from Pioneer Nation:

  • The internet is the biggest small town in the world.

I went to the conference without knowing anyone, but I ran into people who had guest posted on my tiny blog years before. I found people who I knew from twitter and didn’t know were attending. I had so much fun at one of the sessions that it had to be moved because we were causing too much of a ruckus! I ran into people I met at the only other, incredibly tiny, blogging conference I’d been to. There were connections everywhere, and everyone I spoke to seemed to be experiencing a concentrated kismet.

  • Being in a room full of committed, curious people is priceless.

One of the hardest things to tell when you meet new people or make a new connection, is who is going to follow through. Are you really going to talk after the circus as packed up? How do you know where to invest your time?

Kyla Roma Podcast: Make The Most Of Your Conference Experience

Make The Most of your Blogging, Business or Social Media Conference Experience (What to do before, during & after)That’s right, there’s a new episode of my subscriber only podcast!

I’m heading to Portland for a conference for creative entrepreneurs and it means conferences, travel and face to face networking are all on my mind.

Conferences are a huge part of blogging, online business and our normal 9 to 5 work lives – and they’re sizzling with possibility!

But they can also be stressful and be hard to bring your authentic self to.

In this episode I share my personal prep for attending a conference, and how to find sanity in the chaos of a conference.

I also share what you should never say to a border agent when travelling out of country to a blogging or business related event.

It’s an important secret that could save you dozens of hours, stress and lost income if you own your own business. And if you don’t have a background in human resources like I do, it’s a trap you could walk right into. Let me save you the trouble!

To hear the podcast, sign up for my newsletter:

The newsletter is the only place to get my podcast, and occasional insider deals and announcements classes that I’ve dreamed up just for you.

My Secret “Reset” Button (or How To Create Your Own at Home Personal Retreat)

Taking dedicated personal time for ourselves is hard. We put our friends, family and things we dread on our calendars. But if I look back at my calendar from two years ago, there wasn’t a lot in it dedicated to taking care of myself.

I used to feel like I was running to catch up… but I could never get there! That frantic state is the worst not just because it’s a hard place to live, but because when you’re in it it’s hard to even know what will make it better.

Last year I made the idea of “living with intention” into an active part of my life by taking dedicated personal time every two weeks to think, take care of myself, process my feelings and what was or wasn’t working in my life. It was also one of the best years I’ve ever experienced, and I  don’t think for a second that’s a coincidence

Now I get it: If I want to have a sane life that feels great, I have to schedule time to actively focus on what I need. So I’ve started creating personal retreats for myself through the year.

This might sound complicated, but it’s dead easy!

A retreat can be whatever you’d like it to be. It’s dedicated time for you to do what you need, care for yourself, and come away feeling refreshed.

Completely Biased List of A Retreat’s Fabulous Benefits:

  • It lets you reclaim your brain, by actually addressing the thoughts and feelings that take up your energy when they’re constantly on repeat in the background of your life.
  • It pulls you out of your head so you can focus on action – which is where the living happens!
  • It’s a perfectly legitimate excuse to stay in your PJ’s all day, or have breakfast food for every meal.
  • It puts you back on your priority list, so you have energy to offer people around you instead of radiating how you feel drained and worried. That switch of mindset might as well be a superpower.

Feeling convinced? Enough to tweet about it even? Then let’s talk scheduling!

Craft an at home personal retreat

How to Craft Your Own Personal Retreat

A personal retreat can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. At its core, it’s simply time intentionally set aside for taking care of yourself and getting centered again. Simple? Sure. But it has a big impact.

Choose an amount of time that feels right to you

Your perfect retreat might be two hours in your bedroom, a lazy morning with your journal followed by an inspiration gathering afternoon at the library, or a weekend dedicated to reflection, journaling, champagne and spa treatments.

Chances are you know exactly what you’re craving and what would feel great now, so use that as a jumping off point! There’s no wrong way to do this, just make sure you set the time aside in your calendar.


Brainstorm ideas for comfort

Comfort is anything that feels soothing, or like you’re pampering yourself. Comfort can set the mood for your retreat and help you feel like you’re enjoying a rare treat.

Ways to add comfort into your retreat:

  • Wake up without an alarm
  • Take a bubble bath before breakfast
  • Take an afternoon nap
  • Get a massage
  • Treat yourself to your favourite meal


Brainstorm ideas for self care

Where comfort is lovely, it’s a temporary treat. Self care is something that helps you on a level that chocolate can’t (scandalous, I know!) and will help you recharge in a lasting, meaningful way.

Ways to add self care into your retreat:

  • Practice yoga, meditation or prayer
  • Try taking an unplugged day, or turning off all your smartphone notifications
  • Do a “brain dump” where you list out all the things that have been on your mind & that you’ve tried to remember
  • Set up a call with a friend who can help you talk through something that’s tripping you up
  • Journal about anything that’s been upsetting or worrying you
  • Write out your current challenges, successes & what you’re craving. Ask yourself how you can make for more of what you’re craving to the coming week and month.
  • Do a calendar audit to make sure your schedule matches your priorities
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