OwnTrail | Blog

Veena Ramaswamy on her lifelong personal development journey

The move to start a coaching business wasn’t a sudden one for  Veena Ramaswamy — it’s an extension of her years-long personal development journey. We spoke to the new author about sifting through the plethora of self-help resources and what’s bringing her happiness in this moment.

You went on a 6-year journey of personal development when many people opt to work on themselves periodically at different times in their lives. What was the tipping point or catalyst that led you to decide on this type of long-term ongoing work?

I’ve always been a very goal-oriented and ambitious woman ever since I was young. I’m an avid learner and always had the insatiable curiosity to unravel the many things that life has to offer. However, I always experienced self-doubt and imposter syndrome in various aspects of my life. I would always work so hard to realize that my effort never paid off no matter what I did which really reduced my confidence and self-esteem. I was also living a dual identity where it was an ongoing battle — being confined to Western norms, while simultaneously adopting ethnic traditions. I struggled to live up to the crazy expectations of being “Americanized” and to conform to societal standards of the ideal strong Desi woman. Amid all of this, I was constantly looked down upon for not being up to par with the competition. I was raised in an environment that embraced gender stereotypes and was taught that women should be submissive and gentle. Because of this, I always hesitated to voice my opinions and people would underestimate my potential. I realized that I was hiding parts of who I really was and started to self-reflect on what my true purpose was which led me to start my self-discovery journey.

“I struggled to live up to the crazy expectations of being “Americanized” and to conform to societal standards of the ideal strong Desi woman.”

I didn’t want everyone’s judgments and criticisms to get in the way of my dreams. I realized that I’m not going to settle for mediocrity and I have an abundance of potential, which will help me achieve greatness someday. I always had a can-do attitude and my motto was “I can. I will. I did.” I acknowledged my unique superpowers to secretly stunt on everyone who doubted me. As I was raging with fire inside of me to manifest my dreams, my motivation soared immensely. I was on a mission to slay those goals and become the woman I was destined to be. I found my true calling and I dedicated 6 years of hardcore focus and alignment to reflect on my purpose and aspirations in life. The self-discovery journey fueled my desire for personal growth, which allowed me to upgrade every part of my life. Despite several years of setbacks, I was determined to rise! I wanted to be more than just a pretty face. I wanted to show that ladies are capable of everything and I became a strong advocate of women empowerment. My mission in life is to first become the best version of myself and empower/inspire others to reach their full potential. I want to use my superpowers of determination, perseverance, and optimism to instill confidence and inspire women all over the world that they are beautiful the way they are and are capable of great things in life. I’m proud to say that I’ve reached my dream to become a trailblazer for the next generation of girls.

“Personal development should be also prioritized along with career and family.”

I personally feel that personal development and self-improvement is an ongoing process and should be practiced on a daily basis even during different times in people’s lives. It’s fine to work on yourselves and practice self-care despite having a hectic schedule as it can lead to a better work-life balance. There are no excuses and you can make time for things that are important in life such as good health, happiness, and peace. Personal development should be also prioritized along with career and family. I would recommend spending just an hour and two reflecting on long-term goals, improving small habits, etc. so that you can lead a better and happier life .

Self-care and personal development have gotten pretty buzzwordy. How did you navigate the massive landscape of choices, offerings and resources, especially when some of them aren’t all they make themselves out to be?

That’s an interesting question. Yes, there is a plethora of choices and self-care resources but I started to explore several of them and chose the ones that inspired me and improved my inner peace. Some activities that I did that gave me the most fulfillment and satisfaction is practicing meditation every morning which gave me mindfulness and mental clarity. I would take an hour every weekend to learn something new every day either by watching or listening to motivational speakers such as Joel Osteen, Jay Shetty, Les Brown, etc. or take courses that boosted my knowledge in different topics that I was passionate about. I would indulge in activities that contributed to my professional and personal success. I would read books and articles that helped be become a better person each day and motivated me to reach my full potential. I also surrounded myself with powerhouse women and listened to their motivational speeches and talks and had authentic conversations with them on a monthly basis. I’m passionate about social impact and have volunteered at nonprofit organizations filled with amazing women leaders which had a mission that I admired. When there were so many resources, I eagerly explored and discovered which ones really contributing to my growth and aligned with my purpose, mission, and core values.

We’re at a collective moment of change when it comes to work (for example, The Great Resignation). As someone who experienced multiple career pivots, what advice do you have for people considering making a big professional change?

“Don’t choose something that you’re low-key interested in. Always be yourself and choose a career that works for you and jives with your personality.”

I would say it’s very important to step out of your comfort zone. Try to let go of the fear and embrace the unknown as this will foster innovation. It’s important to find a career that you’re passionate about whether it’s a corporate job or entrepreneurship. Don’t choose something that you’re low-key interested in. Always be yourself and choose a career that works for you and jives with your personality. I took the challenge and came out of my comfort zone which invited so many golden opportunities for me. I explored new interests and faced my fears. I wish I had done this earlier, but it really made me reach my full potential. I used my knowledge and versatility to my advantage and unraveled my passion. I didn’t give up and fought for what I wanted to so that I can excel in my career. I used the work now, play later approach to step up my A-game and sacrificed pleasure for work for the past 10 years and you know what, it was all totally worth it! Determination, perseverance, and sheer motivation are all significant in being successful in your career and in life. Focus more on long-term career fulfillment rather than the actual role and weigh the pros and cons on what gives you the maximum growth, income, and impact. When you keep learning and trying different things, you not only grow professionally and in your skills but you also grow as a person.

Your trail lists both internal milestones and external recognitions. What is your definition of success, and how do you recognize it for yourself outside external validation?

Many people define success in different ways but during my journey, I realized that true success for me was when I woke up every day feeling content and fulfilled, and I was living a life with purpose and meaning. My mission or ulterior goal in life is to add value to people’s lives, lead by example, and inspire people through my work as a life coach. I felt a ping of joy knowing that I made a positive impact in the world, shared valuable advice for people to be inspired by, and empowered people to dream big and get the help they need. My desire is for people to love and respect me for the person I am and the difference I made in people’s lives and not for the titles or wealth I received. I measure true success by not what the desired outcome is or the actual goal achieved. I believe success is knowing how to handle & overcome the various setbacks you face and bouncing back from the failures with great optimism, persistence, resilience, and a can-do attitude. It’s the journey that you navigate when you take actionable steps to reach that goal and measuring how much progress and growth was accomplished along the way without giving up. Real success for me is when I’m able to reach my highest potential and live my purpose by helping and serving others to also connect with their authentic selves so that they can live a content and fulfilled life.

As someone who’s worked to find happiness in place of imposter syndrome and doubt, and written about it, what is bringing you happiness right now?

I’m currently an entrepreneur and currently my coaching business is bringing me happiness. I’m a life and career coach specializing in success and mindset and have been building my personal brand as I coach clients every week. As a life coach, I guide them on how to overcome imposter syndrome, leverage confidence, and unlock their full potential. I get utmost satisfaction and contentment when I help women/men esp in my generation who are going through the same things that I went through. There is a sense of calmness and inner peace knowing that I can help them take their life to the next level and turn their dreams into reality. More importantly, through my coaching business, I would like to see all ambitious go-getters work together and give them the resources via workshops and webinars as well as emotional support so that they can get their dreams accomplished as much as possible. I would like to start a huge community where these people can feel extremely safe to be themselves and voice their story and make them into the next leaders and trailblazers. I would like to see a ripple effect where each person inspires and motivates each other and there is tremendous change and impact in this world filled with dreamers, doers, go-getters, and visionaries! I also get happy and inspired when I connect and build meaningful relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs who have similar missions and wanting to make a huge difference in the world.

Also passionate about personal development? Looking to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs to talk changing the world? Connect with Veena to start a conversation!