Your Path to Purpose Interview Series - Eleni Vardaki

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Today I'm back on the blog for the last guest of the interview series "Your path to purpose". 

Sorry for the silence in this space lately but I felt called to share more of daily bits and pieces on my Instagram page, so don't hesitate to check them out after reading this awesome interview ;-) 

A little introduction on what this series is all about ...

I decided to chat with some inspiring like-minded people about their path to purpose. 

Yes the path, because the final destination, the big passion we're looking for that gives purpose to our life, it's just an excuse to live the path! And in this journey there are inevitable moments of transition that are there to teach us something and clarify the direction we're going.

It's exciting , isn't it? But also deeply stressful and destabilizing and sometimes it can feel lonely and confusing, that's why I decided to interview some wonderful inspiring people to let you know that you're not alone and that what you're feeling in this very moment is totally ok. 

Today's guest is an empowered lady with a very international background , Eleni Vardaki from http://elenivardaki.com. Eleni is an experienced classroom teacher, workshop leader and youth mentor. She’s on a mission to help bridge the gap between mainstream education and work/life skills. Her freelance work is born out of her personal and professional experience of seeing how even the best education systems in the world are so focused on developing intellectual skills, that this focus on cognitive education can come at the expense of developing crucial life skills. 

Education is one of the topic I'm most passionate about because what is more important for a young adult than that ? So I'm excited to share this conversation with you. Let's start !

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First of all tell us a little about who you are.

I’m a human being who teaches human beings for a living.  I love sushi, sun and making things fun. Over the last 10 years, I’ve trained people who society defines as ‘young’, and I have also trained the young-of-heart.

I love working with lifelong learners who, irrespective of age, are keen to learn how to focus more, stress less and motivate themselves.

How did you get to where you are now? In particular if you can tell us about a life or career transition that really affected who you are today.

The day of my graduation at Cambridge University was a major turning point in my life - though not in the way that you'd imagine. There I was at the end of the Cambridge chapter of my life, about to receive a hard-earned award for academic excellence.

I was one of the few in my Masters in Education course to graduate with Distinction.

Bear in mind that I’d started life achieving “average” grades. My primary school reports were full of Bs and Cs. I’d worked my way up the ladder of academic achievement to get to that place after years of hard work and perseverance. So as I wore the fancy Cambridge graduate cape that day, it all felt a bit surreal - far beyond my wildest dreams. Knowing my story, you'd think that somebody in my position would have at least felt some level of joy, or at least of pride - a sense of achievement of some sort, on that incredible day. That would make sense, wouldn’t it?

Well, that wasn't the case for me.

I was successful on paper...but I didn't FEEL successful.  I cried on my way home that day. I felt sad. Disconnected. Undeserving. Alone.

I know what you’re thinking: But how could that be? This doesn’t make sense. I know. I get it. That’s exactly what I was thinking, too.

 What were the fears that came up in that moment?

I felt sadness, more than fear. I was relieved when the ceremony was over, eager to go back to my mundane daily routine, and act like this emotional breakthrough had never happened.

 How did you overcome them?

My quality of life started to improve about one year later, when I realized I had to change my habits. Emotional habits. Behavioural habits. Ways of thinking, ways of being, ways of seeing the world. You name it, I changed it, as I embarked on a journey of soul-searching and inner transformation.

I realized that increased competence in an area of your life does not necessarily lead to increased confidence, and I felt a drive to figure out what was going on. This drive to understand my inner world lead to a drive to understand others, because the more I worked with ambitious high-achievers, the more I noticed a recurring pattern of conscientious youths experiencing confidence crises.

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What was the biggest lesson you got out of the experience?

I learned that you CAN achieve more, with more ease and joy. It’s possible. I’ve done it.

I’ve helped others learn how to do it. And you can do it, too.

 What advice would you share to someone going through a similar transition?

Re-evaluate your spending choices. Prioritize saving some of your salary to invest in your long-term personal growth, over spending your money on a quick-fixes for short-term fun and pleasure.

Stop sacrificing all of your well-being needs for the well-being of others.

Buy self-help books. Go to workshops. Invest in courses.

Do whatever it takes to make sense of what you're feeling inside.

There's so much help and wisdom out there. And soooo much of it is available for free, like this amazing blog and newsletter that Alessia so kindly and generously puts together for you all.

 Do you have any rituals or routines that support you during times of change?

I do! My favourite one right now is my evening wind-down routine, which includes rubbing therapeutic grade essential oils on the souls of my feet. It smells and feels divine, and it’s such a lovely treat that I always look forward to at the end of a long day. What I like is that it’s a fun way to end the day. It’s simple enough that I can stick to it throughout the year, irrespective of how tired I feel. Plus it helps me warm my feet up in the cold winter months.

 What are the things that light you up in life at the moment?

Kindness.

What does living a life on purpose looks like for you today?

Working with ever-more youths, parents, educators and school leaders who want to change their habits to change their lives.

I love teaching ambitious and conscientious youths how to create better self-care habits, because self-care habits are key for learning how to focus more, stress less and motivate yourself.

And I know that teens and young adults learn best from what they see the adults in their lives doing, rather than what said adults tell them they “should” do. So I’m keen to nurture relationships with schools and institutions worldwide who value community well-being. I want to work with businesses, leaders and organizations that get the benefit of fostering a holistic approach to teaching student well-being. 

FINALLY, CAN YOU SHARE WHAT'S NEXT INTO YOUR WORK AND HOW PEOPLE CAN GET INVOLVED? 

I’m now organizing the second world-wide Stress Less Summit in 2018 for caring parents, mentors, teachers, and school leaders who’re keen to help youth learn how to achieve their goals with more ease and joy.

Go to elenivardaki.com and subscribe to my newsletter for details.


What do you think of Eleni's wisdom ? I wish I had a teacher like this ! And I love her passion about teaching self-care for young people and I can only imagine the ripple effect it will have on the new generation of adults and how they'll face their work/life balance differently than the current one. 

ELENI IS OFFERING YOU A GIFT ! : 

The gift is a 5-page guide with the Top 3 Myths About Emotional Intelligence

And you can access it through this link: 

http://elenivardaki.com/work-life-skills-interviews/

CONNECT WITH ELENI ON SOCIAL MEDIA :

Official Website: elenivardaki.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vardakieleni/?hl=el

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPXvhYAJfkzG7c778SpR3Dg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campvardaki/

Share your favorite nugget of wisdom in the comments below and let's have a conversation. Are you currently going through a life or career transition? What is coming up for you ? Looking forward to connect! 

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Alessia Gandolfo