Welcome back to 2023 or – as Mila (my precious 4-year-old daughter) would say – 2020 FREE. When I first heard her pronounce it this way, it got me excited. I loved the phrasing and started thinking about what would need to happen for me to feel fully FREE in 2023. I decided that exploring this would be a great way for us to start this year together. So, let’s take Key Steps to ‘2020 FREE’ and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


    1. What does FREEDOM mean for you? In other words, how would you know you are FREE? What does FREEDOM look like, sound like and feel like? Pick up your pen and describe it in as much detail as you can. As you are doing this, adjust your breathing, the way you are sitting or standing and so on to best represent that kind of freedom within your body. Actively choose to put yourself in that state now and be aware of how it feels – all the way from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Capture the essence of feeling free.
    2. What would it take for you to be FREE? Answering this might best be achieved by answering a few other questions too: What keeps you caged or stuck or weighs you down? What would you like to let go of this year? Again, write down what comes up for you and don’t worry about whether you think it is possible to achieve freedom or not. Let go of your own judgements and expectations. You might think of one or two specific things or there might be a list that forms. Awareness and acknowledgement is one of the most important first steps.For example: If you would like your house paid off to feel fully free, write it down. While you might not achieve it this year, you can determine what steps you can take (i.e. what is within your locus of control) to get closer to this desired outcome. I would like Mila sleeping through the night. I have now had over 5 years of dreadful sleep (I had pregnancy insomnia) and it would be so FREEING not to get up multiple times a night. While this is not actually in my control (much depends on Mila), there are ways and steps I can take to help myself and Mila.
    3. Why is the above so important? Reflect on and write down why the above is so important to you. What will you gain? What will you lose? What could get in the way? Would it be worth overcoming those obstacles? How will you overcome obstacles? (Remember that overcoming might be surrendering, which is the ultimate freedom). This reflection will help you to see how much of a priority this is for you and to bump it up on the list. And when we see something as a high priority, we more naturally give it our attention and energy. It creates an intrinsic motivation that surpasses the need for strong discipline.
    4. What Key Steps can you put in place to start the process of being FREE? Some things might be 100% in your locus of control and be relatively simple to do, like focusing on your breathing and letting go of your own internal worries / anxiety / expectations. Perhaps you want to take regular social media breaks or to stop comparing your messy life to others seemingly perfect lives (their lives are just as messy by the way). Remember that simple does not mean easy. But if it is a major priority for you, you’ll put in the effort it takes and sustain through challenges. For example, last June I took drastic measures to improve my health that include drinking large quantities of celery juice and avoiding all dairy, wheat, corn and eggs – no small feat I’ll add. This was born out of an overriding desire to feel truly well and frustration with having ongoing sinus infections. I haven’t completely turned the corner yet, but my commitment is resolute because my health has been bumped up to a top priority in my life.You might need support and resources, so think about what or who you need. Last year, I also decided to make Fridays mostly non client facing days so I can spend the morning doing admin or writing (like I’m doing now) and then fetch Mila from school and have a special lunch/play date with her. I needed Collette to hold me accountable and to book out my diary. It was that simple, but I did need the accountability partner. Do I sometimes see clients on a Friday or work over the weekend? Of course, if I was too rigid, where would the freedom be in that? But the way I work, and quality family time has improved dramatically.
    5. What do you commit to doing (or not doing) NOW to breathe life and FREEDOM into your future? You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the next step. Our ultimate human freedom is our ability to choose how we respond to life. We can’t control what 2023 will bring but we can choose how we respond. Commit to that first small (or big) and doable step and DO IT. My wish for you is that you continue to take Key Steps this year to be 2020 FREE and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’



NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’