It is fascinating that the expression “to swim against the stream” is a metaphor for making choices in life that go against prevailing opinions. This is considered to be a challenge that is hard to attain. How interesting that we perceive natural phenomena to be difficult.

When we think of salmon swimming upstream back to their place of birth or the thousands of miles birds travel to migrate, we see them as enormous undertakings. However, I wonder if it is even possible for healthy salmon to choose not to return to the river that is their spawning grounds? Could a healthy migratory bird think “hmmm, maybe I’ll just stay put this winter here in Canada, rather than flying all the way to Mexico”?

It is natural for the salmon to swim upstream. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, but this energy is expended in a manner that maximizes life fulfillment.

As humans our challenge is to get back in touch with the activities that come naturally to us. When we are out of touch with our natural strengths and desires, we settle for a life filled with activities that drain us. Many of us have forgotten our innate strengths, the activities we can engage in for hours without feeling exhausted. Activities that energize us and that we are naturally good at even though they might be perceived as challenging by others.

How to reconnect with the salmon within you:

1. Look back in your life and identify the activities that you enjoyed most as a child. Go ahead and write these activities down. They may provide important clues for the kinds of activities that may energize you today.

2. Now, think about the jobs you have done in your life so far. For each job, identify the activities that energized you most and add these to your list.

3. Then think about your personal life, hobbies and volunteer activities. Which activities energize you the most? Add these to your list.

4. Now, look at your list of insights. What small step will you take today to increase the time you spend doing things that energize you?

The energy you gain from engaging in these activities will provide the fuel to continue on the path of exploring your natural strengths. Soon, you will find yourself eager to swim against the stream, just like the salmon.

When you get stuck on your path of exploration, ask for support from a life coach. Often we take our greatest gifts for granted and think that there is nothing special or worthwhile about that which comes naturally to us.

Author's Bio: 

Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and international speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual coaching and workshops. Author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and to relax and re-energize quickly. Julia has been featured on Joy TV, CBC News, as well as in The Globe & Mail, Glow Magazine, BC Business Magazine and The Vancouver Observer. For more information visit: