Jan. 19, 2021

15 : Leaving Google For a Career In Sustainability and a 3 Month Break with Julia Li (Part 1)

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“There's also this idea of neuroplasticity. It's something we talk a lot about in mindfulness, which is that you have the power to change your brain based on what you pay attention to.” - Julia Li

Welcome to the Mindful FIRE Podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I’m your host Adam Coelho and I’m glad you’re here. 

In this episode, I'm joined by my friend, Julia Li. 

Julia and I met a few years ago when a mutual friend of ours introduced us because she was interested in becoming a facilitator of the popular course search inside yourself, which is an emotional intelligence course at Google, which teaches emotional intelligence through mindfulness.

I'm excited to bring you this interview with Julia, because she's at a point in her life where she's about to make a big move. She's about to leave Google and switch into a totally different space of sustainability. 

And this conversation goes into a lot of different areas, but it really. Points to the importance of creating sustainability within your own life. Being intentional and thoughtful about how you're spending your time and figuring out what's important to you and where you want to go with your life.  Julia share some really practical tips and practices for envisioning the future that you want to live, including thinking about how you want to feel in the future and how we can start to bring those feelings and practices into our life right now.

Julia and I are planning on recording another episode, maybe five or six months down the road, once she's taken this time off and started thinking about embarking on her next chapter in the sustainability space.

So definitely subscribe so that you can see that future episode as well. And see what Julia is up to in the future.

In this episode we explore: 

  • How Julia and I know each other
  • How her interest in mindfulness led Julia to work at Google. 
  • Julia’s intentional approach to work and her time at Google. 
  • How she’s decided that she will leave Google to pursue a career in environmental sustainability. 
  • Her plans to take 3 months off and how she plans to use that time to figure out her approach to entering the sustainability field
  • Practices that have helped her
  • A whole lot more 

Connect to what Julia’s up to online:

Books Mentioned:

Full show notes at MindfulFIRE.org/15


Adam Coelho:[00:00:00] Welcome to the mindful fire podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho. And I'm so glad you're here on today's episode. I'm joined by my friend, Julia Li. Julia and I met a few years ago when a mutual friend of ours introduced us because she was interested in becoming a facilitator of the popular course search inside yourself, which is an emotional intelligence course at Google, which teaches emotional intelligence through mindfulness.

I'm excited to bring you this interview with Julia, because she's at a point in her life where she's about to make a big move. She's about to leave Google and switch into a totally different space of sustainability. And this conversation goes into a lot of different areas, but it really. Points to the importance of creating sustainability within your own life. Being intentional and thoughtful about how you're spending your time and figuring out what's important to you and where you want to go with your life.  Julia share some really practical tips and practices for envisioning the future that you want to live, including thinking about how you want to feel in the future and how we can start to bring those feelings and practices into our life right now.

Julia and I are planning on recording another episode, maybe five or six months down the road, once she's taken this time off and started thinking about embarking on her next chapter in the sustainability space.

So definitely subscribe so that you can see that future episode as well. And see what Julia is up to in the future.

And with that, Let's dive into today's episode.  

Welcome to the mindful fire podcast, Julia. Thanks so much, Adam. I'm so excited to be here with

Julia Li:[00:01:59] you.

Yeah. I'm really excited to have you on the podcast today for the audience.  Julia and I met a few  years ago when. She was starting to look into becoming a facilitator for a course at Google called search inside yourself.

And so the two of us are both now facilitators of that program, but we had a mutual colleague and friend who introduced us to each other. And we had a really great conversation that I think was supposed to be like a half hour ended up being .

Like two hours. 

Yeah. That was a great first lunch that we had.

Adam Coelho:[00:02:46] Yeah.  , we found that we were quite aligned on a lot of things, including mindfulness and just generally how we try to approach life. And so I'm really excited to have you on the podcast. 

Julia Li:[00:02:56] Thanks so much. 

Adam Coelho:[00:02:59] I'd love to have you share with our audience  a little bit about who you are and what's going on in your life right now.

Julia Li:[00:03:05] Yeah, sure. So Adam and I recently caught up over chat at work. And I told them about this big life decision I was about to make. It's going to happen in about two months from now, which is I am leaving my job at Google to pursue a completely different path. So that's when he invited me on the podcast.

But to give a little bit of background on how I got to this point. So in college I studied neuroscience and business, and I thought that I would go down this route of healthcare or business or consulting or something along those lines. But it was right after I graduated from college that I read this book that changed my life and it was called Ishmael by Daniel acquaintance.

A very interesting story. So I'm not going to get too much into that, but sometimes, you read a book you haven't experienced that just completely shifts your perspective. And that was the book for me. And I had this moment where I just realized, Oh crap, I studied the wrong thing. I should've studied sustainability environmentalism.

And I just realized that moment, that. This was the most pressing challenge and opportunity of our lifetime. And that is what I wanted to get into at the time though, I had just moved up to San Francisco for a job in healthcare consulting and I was there for three months before I then ended up joining Google.

So that was a whole nother story, but I essentially was already on this path in having a pretty standard career. I joined Google as a account strategist for the advertising team. And so I thought to myself, okay, I'll stay here for a couple of years. I'll get my foot in the door, this amazing company, I'll build some experience.

And then I'll take all of this experience and use it to transition into sustainability, which is what I eventually want to do. So I always looked at my time at Google as a stepping stone. And I thought I would stay there for years. It was this very arbitrary timeline I gave myself because that's how long it takes your first batch of stock to vest.

When you get, when you joined the company. And so ever since then, every year, I've questioned. Okay. Is it time for me to leave Google yet? And I've been thinking this ever since, about three years in, and now I've been there almost six years. So every year I was thinking this, and there would be periods where I would have life crisis of sorts, where you have those moments where you're like, Oh my gosh, am I on the right path?

Am I doing the right thing? And then I, think about all the reasons I was still at Google. And I think, okay, now it's still the right decision for me to be here right now. And it wasn't until about three months ago in August when I had the inkling that I think my chapter at Google is finally coming to an end and I could feel that decision creeping up on me.

And so the past couple months has been me coming to terms with that decision and. Figuring out what I'm going to do once I leave this company that I've been at for six years, it has been a very huge part of my life. So that's where I'm at right now.

Adam Coelho:[00:06:11] Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I'm curious about what was it in that book, Ishmael that really spoke to you? You don't have to go into the whole detail of the book, but maybe just give an overview of kind of what it's about and what really spoke to you that made you think, Oh no, I studied the wrong thing.


Julia Li:[00:06:30] Yeah. For a couple years I was telling everyone like all of my friends. Oh my gosh, you have to read this book. So I'm happy to talk about it. The book is a story about a guy who was a little bit down on life and he ends up meeting a gorilla and it's a talking gorilla. And so this gorilla becomes like a mentor to this guy.

Like I mentioned, it's a bit of a fantasy story. But the guy starts going back and he's engaging these conversations with the gorilla and the gorilla starts telling the man the history of humankind from a completely different perspective. And so essentially, we have grown up with this idea of how the world belongs to us and this image of, everything was made for mankind and the gorilla just offered a different perspective and how mankind fits into the bigger picture.

And so even though it sounds like a silly premise first story, I think it just opened up my mind to a complete different way of looking at the world. And it made me realize how important it was that that this issue of this climate crisis that we're running towards. Is one of perspective and how we view the world, which then leads to the way in which we engage with it and the way we treat it.

And so it's this complete perspective shift that needs to happen. And, if we're going to change our actions so that we can pull ourselves out of this crisis, 

Adam Coelho:[00:07:55] Yeah, I think I resonate a lot with the idea that kind of act like the world exists for us. 

 I'm also struck by the fact that you really went into Google knowing that it was a stepping stone. Can you talk a little bit more about how that changed, how you approached your time at Google, if at all? 

Julia Li:[00:08:14] Yeah. It's funny because the entire reason that I actually wanted to join Google was because of the mindfulness program search inside yourself that Google had.

So it was never because, Oh, it's a big tech company. I'll make a lot of money or something like that. And I think, honestly, when I first heard about Google, I never imagined I would have a career in tech. I never thought that I would be qualified. I didn't have a background in tech. So I didn't really see myself being here where I am right now.

But I found out about the search inside yourself program when I was in college and I was studying neuroscience. And that's when I first got introduced to this practice of mindfulness. And this was around the time that mindfulness was really just taking off in  general society and especially within businesses as well, where they were realizing the benefits that mindfulness could bring, not just your personal life, but also to your performance.

So I was reading this article in time magazine and it referenced the search inside yourself program at Google. And that was the first time where I was like, wow, that's so cool that there's this company out here that built this in-house three day at the time mindfulness program and encourages its employees to take it and really invest in their well-being like that.

That's so cool that there's a company out there. That matches my values in that way. And I really hope that I can work for a company like that because I never thought that I would actually work at Google. So when I was interviewing for Google, I at first looked at it as my foot in the door to become a part of this company culture that valued mindfulness and went through this crazy interview process of.

15 interviews in a span of two months, which is unheard of. And I would say that's not normal, so don't let that scare anyone. But that's what gave me the grit to get through all of those, because I felt like there was such an alignment there in the company I was working for at the time. I really wasn't feeling inspired or like I was growing.

So I got into Google and like I mentioned, I was essentially an account strategist on the advertising team, working with clients day in and day out. And I always just looked at it as, okay. I'm not doing sustainability-related stuff right now, but I am building a skill set in this world of business and business management.

And I think I had this perception, always that sustainability was going to be such a huge problem. That there was going to be job opportunities in every sector of it, that it wasn't just going to be the scientists or the PhDs who were solving for it. It wasn't just going to be the politicians. There were probably going to be startup companies that were going to grow and need someone to run, whatever it was. And. So I think in the way that it's shaped, how I approach my job is I always just looked at it as how can I learn as much as I need to learn during my time here so that I'm able to transition my skills to a completely different industry.

I had a career chat with a manager, I think about last year. And I was asking her like how I could make the most out of my time at Google, how I could eventually leave. And she basically told me that I needed to figure out what I wanted to get out of my time at Google. And then once I got that out of my time there, then I would know.

And I think that was one of the best pieces of advice that I ever got, because what that led me to do isI ended up writing a future resume for myself. So I drafted out this resume and I thought, okay, how do I want my resume to look, let's say, after I leave Google and I just bulleted out the different accomplishments I wanted to have, and I periodically revisited that.

And on there, I wanted to have my Google business experience, but I also wanted to be able to speak to some extracurricular sustainability things that I was doing. And having all of this laid out gave me essentially checkboxes to cross off. And I think part of that is also why I'm now at the place where I feel ready to leave, because I look at this and I recognize I've done most of the things on this list that I wanted to do.

Some things changed because plans change, but I feel really good about the point that I'm at right now. And I've also been looking at job opportunities for sustainability companies. And I think for the first time in my life, having now been in my career for six years, I recognize, Oh, I have developed the skills where.

I might be able to do some of these jobs. Like I was looking at this position for this startup company and they're making lab grown meat, which is fascinating. I don't think that's exactly what I want to work for, but they had this position for head of strategic partnerships. So right now I work in channel partnerships.

So third party partners to Google that then service hundreds or thousands of our end clients. And from my work on this team, I looked at that role and I was like, wow, I could probably do this. And I've never felt that way before. So that's been really exciting. 

Adam Coelho:[00:13:01] Yeah, that's really interesting. . And I'll just say that the way that you're talking is amazing, you're killing it.

It was very clear, very concise, very authentic. So just wanted to let you know. 

Julia Li:[00:13:14] Thank you. I wasn't sure. 

Adam Coelho:[00:13:15] It's great. Yeah, it's really interesting to hear that perspective because I've always been impressed when people know what their intention is for how they're approaching a particular job or opportunity or whatever.

There was another guy that I worked with in OPG, and he was only at Google for. A year and a half or two years or something. And I was like, Hey man, like, why are you leaving? And he's I got what I came for, 

Julia Li:[00:13:43] so impressive. It's very inspiring. And it's funny that you say that because I don't necessarily put myself in that boat and it takes other people to remind me of that because.

Sometimes I'll have career chats with my manager or various mentors. And they always tell me you're already ahead of the curve because you know exactly where you want to go. Like you already had this direction. And I am like, yeah, I have this North star, but it's such a big industry. And I don't actually know, what I want to do once I get into it.

And it's funny because now that's. It's no longer the end goal of sustainability because I'm actively taking steps to close this chapter at Google and then open that next chapter into sustainability. There's an anxiety that creeps in where I think, Oh my God, but now I don't know what I want to do within sustainability.

And I feel completely lost. And. Haha. So there's always that level of uncertainty, right? No matter how much it seems like from an outside perspective that someone is very aware of where they want to go. But I do appreciate you saying that and it's helpful to be reminded of that, from a friend.

Adam Coelho:[00:14:45] Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those things where. I've found it various times in my career that I was just kinda like going through the motions. I'm just kinda like letting things, take me where they will. If an opportunity comes up, let me check it out, but not really owning my career or not really owning the.

Direction. I want to go the path that I want to take the skills that I want to learn. It's just kinda Oh, this is great. This is fine. And it's easy when things are comfortable and fine to just keep doing them. Yeah. But I think it takes some self-awareness to step back and say, okay, this might be great, but like, where am I trying to go?

How aligned am I with my values on a day-to-day basis? And can I make some tweaks? Can I make some adjustments that get me more down that path, either in this existing role or in a new opportunity? And so that's definitely something that's top of mind for me right now. Yeah. 

Julia Li:[00:15:45] Yeah. It's hard to say no to things too is one thing to recognize is when people are throwing opportunities at us and especially if they're great opportunities and there's something that you're going to learn from, I think sometimes it's okay.

Just to go with the flow too, and just say yes to what comes because you don't really know what's on the other side of that door. So there's that sense of curiosity? It seems just to say, okay let's see what happens. 

Adam Coelho:[00:16:09] Yeah. And  one thing you mentioned was this idea of writing a future resume.

Are there any other exercises or conversations that you could recommend? People have to think about this, question of, where am I trying to go? And am I aligning myself with the right path? 

Julia Li:[00:16:30] Yeah . I love this question because it gives me an opportunity to talk about this exercise we do in search inside yourself, which I'm sure very well.

Maybe your listeners don't, it's called an envisioning exercise. So essentially what you do is you take a couple of minutes to write a journal entry. As if it's a journal entry from the future. And so you write it in the present tense, but you pretend like it's three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now.

And what you do is you write out what does your life look like at that point in time? What are the ways you feel? Who are you surrounded by? What are the activities that you're doing and the idea and writing it in the present tense like this is. Because our brains essentially act like prediction machines.

So our brains can't tell the future, right? None of us can tell the future. The only information that we're able to take in is from our past experience. And so if you're not being intentional about how you want to shape your future, what your mind is doing unconsciously. Taking in this information from the past to saying, okay, here's how my life has gone up until now, based on that, it probably will go the same way.

And so you unconsciously just live out the same patterns. And so if you're trying to completely shift something, then this envisioning exercise can take you out of that bubble. And the ask also is just a dream big.  What's the prompt it's.

Adam Coelho:[00:17:54]If everything in my life meets or exceeds my most optimistic expectations, what will my life be like in five years? 

Julia Li:[00:18:02]Perfect. Thank you for that. Exactly. And the idea, is not, if I win the lottery, then what happens, but it's things within your control. And so when you allow yourself to dream really big, like that you allow these other.

Opportunities these other ideas to come in. And then when you put them down to paper, it almost tricks your brain into thinking, Hey, maybe that is possible. And that exercise actually isone of the reasons why I'm choosing to leave and something we can get into further is one of the reasons why I'm choosing to leave and actually just take time off for a while.

  But to rewind a little bit on how I got to this point is. I took search inside yourself about four years ago. For the first time I was just a participant. Did the envisioning exercise had that journal entry down.

And then about two years ago, I went through the teacher training to become a facilitator. And as part of that, you take the program again. And so again, I went through that envisioning exercise. And after teacher training, I thought, Oh, I have this journal entry from two years before. Let me look at both of them in comparison and see how they compare.

It was really interesting. But the thing that stuck out the most to me was in both of the entries I wrote, I will have traveled and I will have taken time off and, just travel the world and gotten different perspectives. And I don't think I even consciously realized at that time, how much I wanted to travel and how much I just wanted to step outside of sort of the American bubble, the corporate ladder bubble.

I just wanted to see other different ways of living. If you had talked to me. Let's say a year ago before coronavirus and all of this crazy stuff happened, our world got to come turn completely upside down. My original plan is that I was going to stay at Google until September, 2021. Then I was going to take a year off and travel the world live in different places for a month at a time.

I had this idea that I would apply to grad school for sustainability than defer. And so I would go travel and then come back and just have grad school waiting for me. And I basically had everything all mapped out. Yeah. And then COVID happened, but to that's, the envisioning practice and how it opened the door for me in terms of.

Realizing the things that I wanted to get out of life, maybe that, maybe it was within work or maybe it was even outside of work. But I very recently did an envisioning practice again for myself, because I know I'm taking this time off. And that's what I realized I wanted, but I also really want it to be intentional about what I was doing during my time off, because it's going to require a huge mindset shift the structure in which I'm living my day to day right now working a nine to five and, a normal job is going to be very different when I have complete control over my schedule.

And I've been daydreaming a lot about my life, what it'll look like when I'm not working. And so I just want it to have a reminder of that. So I wrote out again for myself, just to, a one pager of how I'm going to feel on a day to day basis. Like what my rhythms are going to look like, what kind of activities I'm going to engage in.

And also what I want outside of that time off. So in that envisioning practices been really powerful.

Adam Coelho:[00:21:13] Yeah. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that one pager, how you're thinking about that time off, and we can get more into that, but just to hear your thoughts on how you're approaching that 

Julia Li:[00:21:25] I actually have my journal right here. It's pretty short. I can read it, which I will acknowledge feels a little bit scary.

But I also think it's an example where if you want something to happen in your life, then writing it down is a powerful manifestation tool of sorts talking to other people about it is. And I think reading it out loud maybe is another way of doing so. Before I do. I want to tell you just a little bit about my thought process here.

I wrote mostly about how I want to feel during my time off, because I think when you have a goal in mind, like when you want to accomplish something in your life, It's not really about that end goal. So for me, it's not just about quitting Google, but it's, how do I want to feel as a result of that goal?

And so by writing out those feelings, I also want to remind myself, this is how I want to feel. These maybe are ways that I can bring these feelings into my life right now. So getting clear on that and then bring it into my life right now. So I can gradually start to make that mindset shift.

Towards living this, these types of feelings full time. So this is my short envisioning journal entry to myself. I wrote a vision of a future life for myself, one rooted in joy presence and rest. I wake up every morning, delighted to greet the day I luxuriously made my morning tea lightly, move my body and find a few unrushed moments of mindful stillness.

Mornings are dedicated to learning an online course, a good book researching what interests me. I have the time and space to cook delicious nourishing meals that are reflection of my gratitude and connection to the earth in the afternoons. I paint. My creativity has never thrived more.

 Three times a week I stress my physical body. I feel stronger and more capable than I have in a long time. As a result, my mind also feels stimulated and alive. Boredom restlessness and dread of markers of the past rest is prioritized when I need it. This healthy balance of being and doing is simply a microcosm of the paradigm shift that needs to happen in the world.

And when the time feels right, I emerged from this cocoon with a clear vision of the change I want to enact in this world and the courage. To, and so that's my little vision for myself because this time off for me is also like time for me to reflect on the next step I want to take in my sustainability journey.

And the reason I'm taking this time off is because I recognized that I couldn't just rush into it. And I didn't think it would be best service to myself because that's how I ended up here. We are told, go to school, get good grades, go to a good college, study a good major, go get a job, climb the corporate ladder.

And it was at one point during that hamster wheel that I realized, Oh no, I studied the wrong thing. And so I don't want to be in that position again. I don't want to not take that time for reflection. And then. Recognize that I, I wish I'd done something differently. So I really want to take this time for reflection so that I can move forward in my path in sustainability with a clear idea of, okay, how do I want to engage in this huge complex, massive space with a ton of new opportunity opening up?

Like we don't know what, what is going to come 

Adam Coelho:[00:24:53] out of it. Yeah. So it just slipped to say, thank you so much for sharing that could potentially be vulnerable, but I do agree that it's powerful to put down on paper, what you want from your life. And as you said, it's even more powerful to share with others.

And perhaps it's even the most powerful when you share it on a podcast that a bunch of people.

Julia Li:[00:25:14] I'll cross my fingers for that.

Adam Coelho:[00:25:16] I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on why it's so important to focus on how you want to feel during this time, rather than the outcome that you want to get from doing this. Theoretically, you want to know exactly which direction you want to go in the sustainability space. As you embark on this new chapter of your life.

But instead in your envisioning, it was more about taking this time off and focusing on how you want to feel. And so just would love to hear your thoughts on why you focused on that and left the outcome just as something that will happen as a result of focusing and getting yourself in the feeling state that you want to feel.

Julia Li:[00:25:54] Yeah. That's a great question. I think it's because every goal that we have just as human beings, I think  we have this goal because we eventually, at the end of the day, want to feel peaceful, happy, and safe. So that's the root of all of it, but we really tend to get confused by all of these surface level goals that we set for ourselves, whether they are goals that are coming from us internally, or maybe it's things that society has told us, "Hey, if you achieve X, Y, and Z, then you'll be happy."

But at the end of the day, we're all just looking for that joy and that peace. And so I think if you really tune into that feeling and then focus on that feeling that you're going towards. That adds more meaning to your goals? Let's say we use finances as an example, because you run a financial podcast and you have this goal of retiring by the time you're 35. I think what you want to challenge yourself to do is to really consider why do I want to retire by the time of 35? What's the purpose of that? What is this going to bring me? It's not just about the amount of money that you make, right? Because the money is a means to an end. So what is that end for yourself?

Is it the freedom to pursue full-time things that you truly care about? Is that more time to spend with your family? Is it that you will be able to pursue certain hobbies and just fun things that you want to do in life. So getting really clear on that end. And then I also think of this as just this idea of, there's a lot of talk in the spiritual space about manifestation and law of attraction and how to bring these things into your life.

And I think of this as manifestation one Oh one, which is think about how you want to feel at the end of your goal. And then look for ways to bring that feeling into your life right now, because we're also, you're just living for this future state. You're just thinking, Oh, once I achieve X, Y, and Z, then I'll be happy.

But if you're constantly living in that type of mindset, once you get there, You have a practice being happy. So how are you supposed to suddenly flip a switch and just be happy? Because you have, an arbitrary amount of money in your bank accounts. And I think as people, we're all always striving for that next thing.

And so once you achieve a certain goal, there probably will be another goal that comes up just, you're not aware of that goal yet, but if you're constantly in that striving mindset, then you're missing out on the time that you have right now. And so that feeling piece is. You are consciously training yourself along the way to achieve that end state that you want to feel that is also part of your journey and getting there or else, you end up there, you have that same mindset and.

There's also this idea of neuroplasticity. It's something we talk a lot about in mindfulness, which is that you have the power to change your brain based on what you pay attention to.And I think one thing that really struck me is I'm a mindfulness teacher that I follow. I remember one time they said.

Neuroplasticity is happening all the time, whether you're conscious of it or not. And so how can you be more conscious about the ways in which you want to shape your brain instead of just going by default? I want to feel more creative. I want to practice my ability to rest. I want to engage with the world in a way that's not just about money, but more so about the purpose and the contribution that I'm making.

So how can I bring all of those aspects into my life right now? And I think in writing this envisioning statement, there's little pieces of that, that I've been able to pull in. For example right now during the pandemic is the first time in my life that I felt a healthy morning routine for myself because I had never had the time before and I'd always wake up and I would just rush, to get to work or in San Francisco to get on the shuttle and get to work.

And it was probably about three months into the pandemic where I, it finally clicked for me where I realized, Oh my gosh, I don't have to wake up. And. Drive myself to my desk and start my day and just be unhappy about that. I can bring in this sense of inspiration. I can bring in the sense of excitement to start my day by crafting this morning routine.

And so by practicing that right now, When I do take my time off, I won't still be in that default mindset of, Oh my gosh, I woke up and now I have to start my day. I have to do this it's Oh my gosh. I woke up and I had this beautiful routine that I get to do. And I've been practicing doing this routine for the past couple of months, and now I'm good at it.

And I can use that to then go into this amazing day I'm going to have. 

Adam Coelho:[00:30:37] Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I have had times in my life where I had strong morning routine, and now it's not one of those times, but I'm looking to get back to that just because it is so important how you start your day. And I totally agree that getting clear on.

How you want to feel in the future, especially with regards to financial independence, this idea of retiring early. So many people do put out there that like, when I get there, then I can be happy if only this would happen, then everything would be great. But the reality is. When you get there, you're just going to want something else.

If you haven't practiced feeling the way that you want to feel. And so thinking about that, and then really bringing that into this moment is really important and really valuable practice. And I talked about this on another podcast with, I think it was episode six with Morgan Bricca and summary was essentially, don't wait to live your life.

And she was saying that she tries to infuse each one of her days with joy and ease. And it's just something that we can do. You just have to be conscious of it and intentional about it. Starting your day with a morning routine, where you set that intention. And create a little space for doing that really, I think is the foundation for doing that in more and more of your life?

Julia Li:[00:31:59] Yeah. Yeah. I actually loved that episode with Morgan. I resonated a lot with the thing she says. I love that you drew that parallel. I think another thing to remember is that all of life we're just practicing. There's never an end point. There's never a point where you're going to have a perfect morning routine.

Probably not. Maybe you will, but probably not. And so that's okay. And. We have to be able to be flexible with what is going to be most supportive to our current situation. It's really nice to be able to have these different things in your toolbox, practicing, having a morning routine, and then maybe you fall off that bandwagon, but, Hey, if I.

I need a little bit more structure in my life. And I recognize I'm starting my days and just, at a bit of a state of dread or whatever it is, I can call on this tool to have it. It's the same thing with the meditation practices. We're always just practicing and there's no perfect end state that we will get to.

And I think it's really cool. It's, let's recognize that we're on this journey. We're always going to be learning. And the fun part is being on this journey. Because you're always going to be on a journey. Once you hit this goal, you're going to be on a journey to another goal. So how exciting is it that we get to be on this journey right now and learning the things that we're learning in this journey right now, and then we'll have another one where we get to learn new, cool, amazing things that add to our life.

Adam Coelho:[00:33:25] Absolutely.

I'd love to understand a little bit more about how you got interested in mindfulness and what support mindfulness has provided you as you have thought about making this change. And now we're getting ready to make this big change of leaving Google and shifting into sustainability. Yeah.

Julia Li:[00:33:43] Funny story about mindfulness is it was also a book opened the doors to mindfulness for me. And that book was the power of now by Eckhart. Totally. And I read that book in college and I think it was just the first time that it made me realize that there was a different option than the monkey mind.

We're so used to, which is always worrying about the future ruminating on the past and this concept of, Hey, If we can just be present in this moment. Wow. There's so much peace here and there's so much spaciousness and that book was life-changing for me. And, that's what led me down this path of search inside yourself and Google and all of that, but I've definitely been leaning heavily on my mindfulness practice during this transition that I making.

Because it allows me a better way of relating to a lot, but the more difficult emotions that I'm experiencing and I've also been going through coaching, I realized I was going to make this decision. My mindfulness practice helped me notice that there were a lot of difficult and challenging thoughts that were arising as part of it.

So deep down, I really wanted to leave Google and I wanted to transition to sustainability. On the surface level. My mind was saying to me, Oh my gosh this is so scary. Are you sure you want to do it? What if it doesn't work out? What if you never find a job? Oh my God. You're not going to get paid.

What if you're really not good enough to succeed in a career in sustainability. All of that stuff that, that our minds do. My mindfulness helped me recognize that  I probably wanted support in this instance, and then also just apply mindfulness to dealing with these emotions has really helped me come to a healthy place with them, which is where I'm at right now, because I first decided in August is when I had this inkling, I think I want to leave.

And it's probably taken me, three months to be like, okay, I am secure. And my decision and I am ready to tell people about it. And I think the biggest piece that mindfulness has helped me with is when these voices come up, these voices of anxiety or fear, or even guilt Oh my gosh, I'm letting down.

My coworkers by leaving and things are going to be so hard for them. Once I leave.Mindfulness helps me one, not necessarily believe them. A lot of the times we're believing whatever our mind is telling us, but if I can just recognize it as a voice in my head, instead of as the truth, that gives me a little bit of space from it.

And then it gives me the opportunity to respond to that voice. So one thing I've really been practicing is. Noticing when these thoughts come up and then saying thank you to them and acknowledging them for what they are and appreciating them. And I find that does not then drag me down into the rabbit hole that they want to drag me down into.

One example is It also comes in waves, right? Me being at peace with this decision and then me feeling really anxious about it. And I would say this week, I have been feeling a little bit anxious about it because I've been researching all of these really cool sustainability companies and reading up on their founders.

And it's triggered a huge amount of imposter syndrome in myself where I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's no way I could do what they do. There's no way I could start a company. I don't think I can do that. And it's this not good enough voice that's talking in my head and it makes me feel like crap.

And so that's where I bring in my mindfulness practice is okay. I have this voice it's telling me I'm not good enough. It's not the truth. It's just a voice. And what can I say in response to this voice? And what I've been practicing saying is. Thank you for showing me how much opportunity there is for me to grow in this industry that I still know very little about.

And so that is to the voice of this anxiety and this imposter syndrome. When I feel really fearful, I'm not going to be making money. What if all these things happen? It's I say to that voice, thank you for showing me that I care about security and I care about maintaining my wellbeing. And this voice of guilt Oh, I'm going to leave my team.

And now everyone else is going to have so much responsibility because I'm not there and their wellbeing is going to suffer. , and I say to that voice, thank you for showing me that I care about being a good teammate. And I genuinely care about the wellbeing of the people that I work with.

And so that's been really helpful and that's something that I've learned from coaching. Mindfulness has also helped me, like I said, recognize. When I want to get support for these things, I feel challenging to deal with by myself because none of us could get through life alone as much as we might want to think that we can.

Yeah. And it gives us a different 

Adam Coelho:[00:38:24] perspective. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that in those examples, especially I think those are really useful because we all have this voice inside of our head that is doubting us or criticizing us. Or whatever it may be, it's different flavors for different people, but just the idea of acknowledging it, thanking it for trying to keep you safe in one way or another, trying to point things out.

And it's just a nice reframing that you're doing for that. So thank you for sharingq

Julia Li:[00:38:53] that.

 Yeah. And the other piece to remind yourself of is that if you are going to continue learning and growing as a person, you are always going to come up against these walls and that it's never going to be, Oh, once I hit a certain spot, I'm going to feel completely secure in my skillset and my worth and all of this.

We're always going to come up against it. So mindfulness also helps me recognize that is, this is part of my journey. I'm feeling this way because I am about to make a huge shift in my life. Jump into an incredible opportunity for myself. And that's part of this journey and like how cool it is that I, get to practice dealing with these demons that I have, that everyone has.


Adam Coelho:[00:39:32] So I'd love to shift gears a little bit into the idea of sustainability. Obviously you've thought a lot about sustainability, but I'd love for you to just share how you see personal sustainability and environmental sustainability as similar or different. 

Julia Li:[00:39:48] Yeah, it's something I thought a lot about in about Q3 of this year.

If I'm going to put it in work speed, quarter three. And the reason I say that is because I write a sustainability newsletter at work. It's a bi-weekly newsletter. It's something that I launched last year. And to, a lot of the concepts that I'm talking about here, they've gone into my ability to launch this newsletter and getting over the fears around that imposter syndrome, whatever.

But I've been writing this newsletter for about a year. And then in July, I remember it was the 4th of July weekend and I just thought, Oh, I'll skip a week. I don't really feel like writing it this week. And then the next week came around and I was like, Oh, I was just like, I don't feel like I can do this right now.

And then weeks turned into months and basically I just completely stopped writing this newsletter. Like it was just like, I, Irish goodbye, everyone. And there was this sense of guilt where I really was like, Oh my gosh, I'm such a bad sustainability person. I can't even keep up with my own newsletter.

Do I really even care about  sustainability if I can't even do this and all of those voices and that was going on in my head. But at the same time, there was just a lot happening in the world.Swap this with her audio. 


We were going through the global pandemic and there was so much systemic racism that was coming to light and people were being made aware of it. And there was so much tension and just this really difficult energy to deal with that was happening in the world. Felt like to me, that all of society was doing its shadow work at the same time, but. Not by choice. And there was a lot to reckon with.

So I was just feeling honestly, very emotionally exhausted. And I wasn't feeling inspired to care about sustainability because it felt like there were more pressing issues that I needed to educate myself on and other ways that I needed to engage with the world. So it was very much this tug of war in my mind, feeling bad on one hand. But on the other hand, I was really trying to practice self-compassion. I was just like, I don't think I want to do this right now. I don't think I have the energy for it. I really just need to rest and process and deal with everything else happening. I just wondering the entire time am I ever going to pick up this newsletter again?

And it was three months later that I finally felt ready and I was trying to think about what I was going to write about. And I decided to just write about this idea of personal sustainability that I had been reflecting on. So teasing apart, my thoughts on why I stopped writing it and what was leading me to coming back to write it.

And I wrote this, an episode called it's okay to rest. And the idea that I was I was really noodling on was essentially the climate crisis that we're in right now is a result of this system that we have built. And this system operates on a false belief that our we're world is full of infinite resources that we can continue growing.

We can continue extracting. We can continue doing more and more forever into infinity. And we know that's just not possible from a completely rational perspective. Our resources are finite, right? That is what has gotten us into the problem that we're in the first place. Now, if we are going to then transition that into the idea of how we expect ourselves to operate.

I think we also live in that type of mindset in this very capitalistic culture that we're in. We think we have to be, efficient and productive all the time and we have to continue doing this forever. And our sense of worth is based on how much we're contributing to this society. So there are parallels between how we treat ourselves.

And how we treat the planet. But the thing is that we know inherently that we are cyclical creatures, that we need sleep, that we need rest. We know the importance of taking time outs. I think that's why mindfulness has taken off so much in the past couple of years, because we recognize there's a lot of value to be gained out of taking that break.

And we come back a lot more refreshed than we were before. And we also know, scientifically, if we don't sleep, we die. So it's the same idea with the planet is if we don't let the planet sleep and we don't let the planet rest that's how we got to where we are right now. So if we're going to tie this then together between environmental sustainability and personal sustainability, we all know this idea of.

You can't fill other's cups before you fill your own and, treat others the way that you want to be treated and you have to take care of yourself and be the best version of yourself. If you're going to be of service to other people and to the world. And so if we are going to completely change our mindset around how we expect the world to operate, which we know we have to do, we have to rewrite the story of our economy and what we think is valuable.

We have to rewrite that story in our personal lives first. We have to be able to understand and honor the fats that we need to rest in our lives and give ourselves permission to do that. If we are to give our planet the permission to. Take brace and to rejuvenate and to restore her natural resources.

Even to me right now with this pandemic, it feels like we are in this forced time out by mother earth. She say, you guys have done enough bad stuff. Like you need to sit in time out. And even just being in this time out for a period of a couple of months, we were seeing these headlines, right? The skies clearing of.

Animals returning to these certain, to certain areas. There, there was a little bit of fake news around it, but there was some restoration that was happening in different areas of the world and in parts of the ocean, just from the decrease in human activity. So it speaks to the huge potential.

There is for the earth to rejuvenate herself, but it won't be able to do that. If we continue  pushing off our resources. In the same way that we do that to ourselves, where we continue pushing, pushing, and at least to burnout and at least to all of that other stuff. So in that envisioning little journal entry, I wrote myself, me giving myself the permission to take a time out and take that sabbatical.

I want that to be a microcosm and a reflection of the type of relationship that I hope we can learn to have with our plants. 

Adam Coelho:[00:46:08] Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that's really a powerful way to think about life. And I think the parallels are abundant. When you think about how we are constantly going, and how we're constantly just exploiting the resources of the earth to no end expecting that.

It will never just stop working because we see that in our life and in the world. 

Julia Li:[00:46:31] Yeah. And I listened to a climate talk recently and something that really stuck with me was this idea of how we value things in our current economy, where a tree is worth more to us dead than alive, even though trees, only make being oxygen that we breathe.

But just because our system doesn't value, it doesn't mean that it's not valuable. It just means that our system is maybe a little bit twisted. So I think of that in the same way in our personal lives, just because our system doesn't Valley rest doesn't mean that rest is not important.

And in the grand scheme of things, once I take this time off, I'm hoping to go back in with a company. Completely renewed sense of drive and of desire, and I've just recharging my battery. So I'm ready to completely read, engage in the way that I want to re-engage and set up from a depleted sense.

Adam Coelho:[00:47:25] Yeah. Can you tell me a little bit more about the idea of giving yourself permission to take this three months sabbatical this three months of rest and rejuvenation and just how you're thinking about? 

Julia Li:[00:47:37] Yeah, I say permission a lot because I think. We live in this world that does not give us permission.

And so you have to practice giving yourself permission. And again, that's where mindfulness comes in as teasing apart. What do you want and what is truly important to you and what the world tells you, you should want and tells you what should make you happy? Part of that is just as simple as, Hey, I feel I want to take a Friday off this week because I just, I need a mental health break. And I did that a few times at the beginning of quarantine because we were all just locked in our houses and no one was going anywhere and it was just the same old. And I was like, no, I just need a day off. I just, I need an extra, three-day weekend.

But no one is going to tell you, I think Hey, it's okay to do this. So sometimes you have to tell yourself no, it's okay for me to do this. It's okay for me to take some time to myself. Or it's okay for me to just not give my entire life away to work, because that is what the system wants out of us.

And I try and remind a lot of my friends about this as well. When they'll say Oh, I don't have the time for this, or I don't have the money for this. I'm like, you probably have the time. You probably have the money, but you just have this idea of, I can't spend that money. Actually, if I'm going to talk a little bit about me taking the sabbatical and not going to be making any income during that time, that's a huge piece of giving myself that permission to dip into my savings, because that feels really scary.

And I could be of the mindset. Oh my gosh, no, like I don't have enough money or what if this happens or what if that happens? That's one way of looking at it or the other way of looking at it is I've worked really hard to save up all this money and to get to a place where I finally feel financially secure and stable and I've paid off my student loans and all of that.

And this is a gift that I'm giving to myself. And I'm going to give myself permission to take that gift. And I talked to a friend who left Google. I've been talking to a lot of friends who left Google to get their advice with some of this is, bar from them and just learnings from other people.

But she really helped me because she said she was a friend who took off think she was going to take off three months last year, it turned into nine months. And so I asked her about, just from a financial perspective, because I was really worrying about it for a bit. And she said, yeah, sometimes I look at my savings and do I think, Oh, I wish there was a little bit more money in there.

Yeah, sure. But I also would not trade that time that I gave myself for the world, because it gave me the space to think about what it was I actually wanted to do. She also made a career pivot. Based on that time off. And she didn't know she was going to make that pivot before she took that time off. So that's what came out of the time off.

And she says, it's, it's my savings. It's my money. I can always make more money, but I can't ever give that time to myself or trade that for anything as that's why I also say money is a means to an end. Money has no inherent value in and of itself. It's what do you want that money to be able to do for you?

And for me personally, is I want that money to buy myself a little bit of freedom from this corporate ladder that I've been trained to climb for six years and to give myself permission to have that freedom for at least a little bit. And then we'll see what happens. 

Adam Coelho:[00:51:01] Yeah. I think it's super brave, and I think you really just hit on all of the fears and thoughts that I personally have.

And I think a lot of people have, right. That the whole idea Oh, What will happen if I step away from work or, will I have enough money, will having a gap on my resume ruined me forever. This idea that's sold to us that you can't have a gap on your resume is just like baffling.

Julia Li:[00:51:27] Yeah. Yeah. And it's not everywhere in the world. It's. In Europe, they take gap years all the time. And so I think that's why it's also still helped to just be able to talk to other people, get a different perspective because we can really get stuck in our own echo chamber, whether it's just our small circle of family or friends or whether it's inside our own head.

Adam Coelho:[00:51:47] Yeah, no, it's interesting. Cause I, as I mentioned, I was recording a podcast yesterday with a friend who also left Google several years ago and he is Australian and has broken Australia and was living in New York city for about three years. And we were talking about this idea of just the pace at which things are happening within Google, within the United States.

That it's just aggressive it's constant. And, we were talking about this idea of different types of value. We are talking about this idea of financial value is only one metric. And we were really talking about if before you can fill up other people's cup, you need to fill up your own cup and, really.

The best way to make an impact in the world is to make sure that your immediate local environment, yourself, your family, your friends are taken care of and in a good place. Instead of just looking out like, Oh, I'm going to go save the world. It's  why don't you save yourself first?

Easy to, I get so caught up in, in that, in that episode, I talk a lot about the podcast as a good, in a bad thing in terms of my approach to doing that. 

Julia Li:[00:52:58] Wow. Yeah. Why do you say a good antibiotic thing? Curious. 

Adam Coelho:[00:53:02] Yeah, I think it's really around the pressure that I put on myself to produce the podcast.

It's a, probably similar to the pressure that you were feeling to produce the newsletter. You've committed to some time table and then, find that I'm constantly just like. Running right up against the deadline, right? Like I'll be putting out an episode next Tuesday. Is that episode ready?

No, not yet. And so it's just that pace that I'm trying to keep up and it's it's self-imposed. And so maybe I need to take a little bit of a step back and say, what do I need, how do I want to feel? What's this sense of rest that I can create? Instead of focusing on producing so much and getting caught up in the go of work in life.

Maybe there's some level of, a little bit more balanced that I can find eating healthy and really getting my mind around, like why that's so important. And I think it gets back to this idea of sustainability. If I'm just jumping from one dopamine hit to the next watching TV or being on my podcast stats or eating McDonald's or whatever, it might be that my wife jokes that like me going to McDonald's is my self-care.

Yeah, they'll probably do a little better than that, but then again also I can, yeah. 

Julia Li:[00:54:20] Yeah. It definitely relates, I think, especially on the, doing a project and extracurricular projects that you've given yourself because. I always had this idea of, Oh, I'm not doing it enough. And I think I hear that. You're also feeling that way about it because you are running this podcast where you want to inspire other people around financial independence and mindfulness, and that's a huge goal.

And so there's this idea of, Oh, but I could always reach more people or, Oh, I could always. Release more episodes where I could grow faster or whatever it is. And I feel the same way about my newsletter with sustainability. It's a huge problem. And I was like I don't have enough subscribers. Like I want more people to read.

And so one thing we really have to practice with ourselves too, is just saying this is enough. Oh, I have 250 subscribers. This is enough. There are, 250 individual people who are reading this and same with you. Like the people that you are reaching, how can you practice saying to yourself, even if I just inspire one person that's enough for even if I just inspire, five people.

That's enough because I think it's just this not enough mindset that we're always running into. And then it comes to self care too. Oh, I'm not doing enough to take care of myself, but it's do we think that something magical is going to happen? If we eat, one less meal at McDonald's?

Probably not. So how can you let. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, be enough for right now and acknowledge. Yeah. There are areas for me to grow and how cool is it that I have this path that I get to grow on and I have so much to learn there and everything I've learned up until now. Has been amazing and it's enough.

And it's enough for me at this current moment in time to a bit of self-compassion there, that we're always 

Adam Coelho:[00:56:06] practicing. Totally. And this idea of enough is one of the reasons why I'm exploring this podcast. It's very much top of mind, and I think you summarized it beautifully because.

Especially in the, like doing things and striving and in all of this, it's Oh, it's enough. It's enough to put out a podcast and it's enough to be working in parenting. Full-time yeah. It's enough. Get through some of my day luge of emails. It's really hard for me to come to that. And you're not done.

So it's a constant struggle. Yeah. Yeah.

Okay let's shift gears now to what I call the mindful fire. Final four. All 

Julia Li:[00:56:47] right. 

Adam Coelho:[00:56:48] So the first question is what is one thing that you're extremely grateful for? 

Julia Li:[00:56:53] I'm extremely grateful for the time that I've had at Google. I think because I am coming up on the end of this chapter and when I. Tap into that gratitude.

It allows me to live each day while I'm still here with so much more presence. So it's not just, Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to leave. I can't wait until I leave. And then let's say, and I'm like, Oh no, I've left. And now I don't have all these amazing. Resources I had in those, that sense of regret. So I don't want to have that.

So I really just want to tap into that gratitude. And I'm so grateful for everything I've learned. I'm so grateful that I had this stepping stone, so grateful for all the connections that I made and. The opportunities that I've gotten to develop myself in ways that are not just tied to my job description, I've been able to do the sustainability stuff.

I've been able to do the mindfulness stuff all through Google, and it's been really incredible. And I think that, I think I will always be able to look back on this time in my life with just so much gratitude . How amazing it was that this was something I got to live through, even the really hard parts and the challenging parts, but also just the opportunities I've gotten in the people I've gotten to meet.

It feels like a really beautiful part of my story . 

Adam Coelho:[00:58:11] Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I totally agree. And often lose sight 

of that. It makes it easier for the days, when. When you're like, Oh, I really don't want to do all of this or the assignments that don't feel inspiring. But when you put on the big picture and I also, ask this question to myself a lot is, Oh, when I'm on my death bed, I will have been proud of myself to have been brave enough to leave Google, to do this other thing, but also, so much gratitude for Google being part of that bigger picture.

It's interesting that you say that you are bringing in gratitude into how you approach each day of the time that you have left at Google. So I just passed 10 years at Google and I've thought about from, thank you. Thank you. I've thought a lot about this from time to time in terms of  how do I make the most of this opportunity?

And to some degree, take as much advantage of this time that I can. And I think that while I'm feeling a little bit burnt out with everything going on in 2020, I think, Looking towards the idea of retiring from Google at some point in the next handful of years, how can I make the most of this opportunity that right now? How can I approach each day with a sense of gratitude, with a sense of living in alignment with my values, even if everything that I'm doing, isn't perfectly aligned. 

But how can I make the most of the opportunity that I have right now? Yeah. 

Julia Li:[00:59:46] And you see how it fits into your bigger picture is you have your North star and you see how Google fits into that. If it doesn't anymore than you would make a change. And so for me, for the longest time, it did fit into that.

And then now I'm recognizing it doesn't anymore because I'm progressing now further in a direction. I don't want to go. So I have so much gratitude for where it's gotten me to, but. Now is the time for the end. Yeah. And I think for you always keeping in mind that North star and having that gratitude of this place where you are, is getting you towards that North star.

If it doesn't at some point or you reach that star. Awesome. Yeah. But keeping things in 

Adam Coelho:[01:00:27] perspective. Yeah. I think I need to do a little bit more reflection on what that North star is and where I'm trying to go. I have inklings. But I don't know if I have fully.

Julia Li:[01:00:38] You might have five different North stars. You get there and you realize there's another star somewhere else you're chasing. And that's 

all right. 

Adam Coelho:[01:00:47] So the second question is what piece of advice would you give to someone early on their path to financial independence? 

So I would tell them to always have a learning mindset because I leave your listeners with this last funny story. Your podcast is called mindful fire. And when I started listening to, I was mostly listening to the meditations, loved those, but I just thought you called it a mindful fire because it was like fires and it wasn't until I started listening to the interviews, I realized, Oh, it's this acronym for financial independence retire early.

And that's why it's all about finances. And that's why he says in the intro. I actually full disclosure. I don't consider myself a very financially savvy person and I to myself and make fun of myself for this a little bit, but I'm like, I barely know how to log into my 401k, so I'm not. I'm not a role model in that sense, but part of the reason I want to you're part of the thing that I want to do during my time off as well is to get my finances in order and to figure out how to invest my money and all of that. So I think, for anyone who maybe is in my shoes, just understand that you have the capacity to learn it.

And it feels to me right now, like a very big, scary world. It's very confusing to me. And I've talked to financial advisors and I've tried to read about it and I've literally studied a 401k multiple times and I still can't figure out what's going on, or I can figure that out. I don't know about the Roth stuff and the IRA stuff.

I still get those mixed up, but that you can learn. And again, just appreciating where you are in your own journey. And for me, that's. Wow, good job. I paid off all my student loans and, I've saved up enough money to do something that I want to do. And I finally feel secure for the first time ever as an adult.

And I have that safety net and just being grateful for that. And then everything else I'm going to learn along the way. And. Anyone else tend to 

Said, and as you are exploring that I would highly recommend reading this book called the simple path to wealth by a guy named JL Collins. So anyone who's early in their path to financial independence, that book really lays out the path.

It makes it very clear that investing doesn't need to be scary. Doesn't need to be complicated and is the path that I'm following. That's great. 

Julia Li:[01:03:12] Thanks. Yeah. I have a reading list of books. I'm going to read during my time off about money. So I will definitely add that one too. I haven't heard 

Adam Coelho:[01:03:20] of it.

Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. Another good one just for your list. If you are interested is called your money or your life. Like Vicki, Robin, she's like the godmother of the financial independence movement. So that's another good one. 

Julia Li:[01:03:35] I will note those down. Thank you.

Adam Coelho:[01:03:37] And the third question is .What piece of advice would you give to someone getting started with meditation and mindfulness? 

Julia Li:[01:03:45] I would say that the goal of meditation is not to have no thoughts. Because sometimes that is a misconception. The goal of meditation is to be able to relate to your thoughts in a healthy way, because your brain is going to always make thoughts. That's what your brain is designed to do. And in the same way, your heart is designed to be as much as you can't stop your heart from beating you can't stop your mind from making thoughts. So just keep that in mind. Sometimes people put so much pressure on themselves when they think I have to sit down, I have to not have a single thought.

And that is a perfect meditation practice. I've been meditating now for. Gosh, like eight years. And that is not how my meditation's look is. My mind is, Oh, whirlwind up there most of the time. But what it will help you do is just to get a little bit of spaciousness from them and recognize that you are not your thoughts and you don't have to believe all of your thoughts, but that you can leverage them and use them in a way  that best services you, instead of being a victim to them, 

Adam Coelho:[01:04:56] Absolutely well said.

And I think that, yeah, that's a very common mistake. Inception of what mindfulness is and the definition of mindfulness has essentially two aspects to it. The awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment. Non-judgmentally and for the longest time of meditating, probably six of my eight years meditating, I was so focused on the attention piece.

My attention should be on my breath. If it wanders, I bring it back. And while that's part of it, there's also this whole aspect of the attitude that I bring to it. And how you describe this, how I'm relating to my thoughts and my experience. And so this idea of non-judgment or have the way I think about it is just being open kind and curious towards myself and whatever comes up in my experience as much, if not more important.

And so I think you summarized that 

Julia Li:[01:05:52] beautifully. Yeah, there's the practice where you sit there and you watch your thoughts, but the more you bring in that open and curious and kind mindset, the more you'll be able to bring that into your day to day experience as well as when you're just navigating life.

And a little thought comes up and instead of believing it and then feeling bad, probably as a result of it. Oh, my, my crazy brain. There's that thought again? 

Adam Coelho:[01:06:17] Yeah, exactly. And the final question is how can people connect with you online and find out a little bit more about what you're working on or your journey as you head forward? 

Julia Li:[01:06:29] Wow. That's a great question. The best way to get in touch with me as of right now would just be my email address. So that is.

Lee.giulia.w.gmail.com. It's spelled L I N period, J U L I a period w@gmail.com. And the reason I only shared that is because I'm in this phase where I'm trying to disconnect from Instagram a lot more. And I try and been trying to not go on it as a result of watching the social dilemma recently. So I'm experimenting with my relationship there and I'm hoping I'll come out of it.

On the other side, maybe with a healthier relationship, but also just teasing apart. What does it even mean to have a healthy relationship with, our online profiles? So there's that, maybe I'll build a website at some point when I'm fun and Floyd. We'll see, but there is my email and I would love to connect with anyone on anything related to mindfulness and sustainability and food, which is something hugely passionate about in relation to sustainability and art.

I actually am trying to be a bit of a part-time artist during my time off, which is something we didn't talk about today. But yeah, there's a lot of things that love to engage with any of your listeners on. So that's where they can reach me at my email. 

At some point, I do intend on rebuilding a healthy relationship with social media and I do intend on getting back on Instagram.

And so my Instagram handle is at @wJulia, which is where people can connect with me as well. 

Adam Coelho:[01:07:59] Perfect. Thank you Julia so much for taking the time and sharing your wisdom on this podcast. I learned so much and I'm going to try to incorporate some of it in my life. And so thank you so much for joining me today on the mindful fire podcast.

Julia Li:[01:08:13] And thank you so much, Adam, for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation. This was lovely and so great to spend this afternoon with you. 

Thank you. 


Adam Coelho:[01:08:22]And I'll just say 

Julia Li:[01:08:23]for the audience 

Adam Coelho:[01:08:24]that Julia and I are planning on recording another episode, maybe five or six months down the road, once she's taken this time off and started thinking about embarking on her next chapter in the sustainability space.

So definitelyumsubscribe so that you can see that future episode as well. And see what Julia is up to in the future. 

Julia Li:[01:08:44] Cool. 

Thanks, Adam. Yes, definitely. 

Adam Coelho:[01:08:47] Subscribe Adam needs some self-worth subscribe. 

Julia Li:[01:08:52] Yes, definitely. We'll see. We'll see what I'm up to a few months from now. 

Adam Coelho:[01:09:00] Perfect. Thanks again, Julia.

Thank you so much, much for joining me on today's episode of the mindful fire podcast. If you got value from today's episode and you've been getting value up until this point, please hit subscribe on the platform. You're listening to this on this, just lets the providers know you're getting value from the episodes.

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