It took a big loss in my life to set me on the path toward intentional living. Grief ripped the blinders off and showed me all the ways I was going through the motions and fulfilling goals others were setting for me. On May 20, 2017, I lost my dad, who had always just got me. He was the person I called each day when driving home from work. Each time I went to pick up the phone to call him made my pain cut a little deeper. But loss made me take a hard look at how I was living my life, and I was not happy with what I saw.
For years, I had an amazing career as a lobbyist. The team I led would pass more than a dozen state laws each year and more city ordinances than we could count. I received fancy awards, from being named one of five most influential women in the city I live in, to being named an under 40 leader to watch.
Behind the smile and the veneer of social media was someone living on autopilot. I was putting so much pressure on myself to accomplish goals other people had set for me. I was known as the person who got shit done, and sure enough, that meant more and more asks were made of me. My plate of responsibilities at work grew. I chaired seven galas in eight years. I rarely saw my husband. We had always wanted to adopt a dog, but we just didn’t have the time to care for one. I felt lost and aimless.
Then my dad passed away. The week after his funeral I went to Mexico to decompress with some friends and felt a tectonic shift within me. Suddenly, I was just done blindly going through the motions. It was time to reclaim my energy and vision for my life. So I began the process of healing two wounds: living each day without my dad and the realization that for so long, I’d been on autopilot and let my life get away from me. That’s a tough pill to swallow.
At that point, I committed to leading a more centered and balanced life. I found ways to set energy in motion consistently. I began to live with intention. What I immediately noticed is that things I always wanted to do or dreamed about became real opportunities in my life. I began listening to my gut, starting with being unapologetically, authentically me. That has given me the confidence to say no to things I don’t really want to do, and yes to things that at one time scared me or I wasn't sure were within my reach.
I committed to making sure each decision is tied to one thing: my personal mission of inspiring others to lead and to create movements within themselves or their communities. By living with intention, I found that the areas in my life where I might have found fear or showed judgment were no longer around. You see, intention allows you to shed unnecessary skin and habits. Fear and judgment were replaced with courage, compassion and grace. To guide me, I selected a theme for my new belief in intention. My theme is faith and fortitude — I allowed this to guide me and my vision for myself, finding my center is now a whole lot easier.
Living with intention led me to move into a different role at my workplace. In my new job, I’m more in control of my schedule. I’ve been able to create more space for myself, and I feel so much calmer. As a result, I've been able to say yes to some of my wildest dreams. And to top it off, in October 2018, a sweet rescued Shih Tzu entered my home. We named him Fitz.
While I miss my dad every day, I find it wonderful that even with his passing, the person who knew me so well, left me the incredible gift of pushing me toward reclaiming my life. Now I think of him every time I make decisions that lead me closer to my vision for my life, and I know he’s happy, just like me.
Terri Broussard Williams believes leaders turn moments into movements. Throughout her accomplished career as a broadcast journalist, press secretary for a US Senate Candidate, philanthropist, and lobbyist, Williams has turned public and community service into a professional art-form that has positively impacted millions of lives.
For nearly fifteen years, Terri has made the American Heart Association (AHA) her career home. Her journey at this notable organization sparked her dream of creating significant, community-shifting outcomes. She counts some of the pieces of legislation passed as some of her most distinguished accomplishments, including The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, a game-changing career milestone she experienced at the flourishing age of 28.
Broussard Williams received her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and is also a graduate of the social impact strategy executive education program at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as holds a graduate certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University. She also serves on several boards including the Austin Area Urban League, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Engagement and The Association of Junior Leagues International among others.
In addition to her leadership at AHA, Terri is focused on paying it forward – encouraging and building up others who strive to create meaningful and groundbreaking change through her blog, movementmakertribe.com. Get to know more about this #firestarter at terribwilliams.com.