Passion Centre Spotlight - Making decisions with inner compass of ‘joystick’

Karin Mizgala at home with her laptop. - Photo by Derrick Lundy
Karin Mizgala at home with her laptop.
— image credit: Photo by Derrick Lundy

By Deborah Wetmore

I absolutely love the research behind these articles because each carefully selected person I interview lights up another facet of “passion centres.”

We’ve already delved into creativity as a vital success factor. In this installment we’ll look at the importance of following your inner “joystick” — a concept that came up in conversation with Salt Spring resident Karin Mizgala, MBA, CFP, co-founder of Women’s Financial Learning Centre and co-founder and CEO of Money Coaches Canada.

About the Businesses

Both of Karin’s businesses revolve around the same desire — to empower Canadians to have a more productive relationship with money. Women’s Financial Learning Centre (founded in 2005 with partner Sheila Walkington) offers teleclasses, workshops, group coaching and other resources such as podcasts, often tackling the emotional blockages that lead to financial inaction. The most recent addition is Money Coaches Canada, a national network of fee-only financial professionals trained by Karin and Sheila, who work in a collaborative association to help clients reach their goals.


Karin describes herself as someone who loves change, new ideas and new places —perhaps not the typical profile of a financial planner. Although this drive may dominate, she’s equally at home in the world of structure. A diligent and responsible approach keeps Karin and her clients firmly rooted in the present. By creating systems and structures that support change, she is able to give her clients, students and associates grounded guidance while helping them open up to an expanded vision of possibility for themselves.

Using the ‘Joystick’

For people like Karin who follow their passions, there are frequent times when decisions have to be made in the face of uncertainty. Though a business plan may provide important support, other tools and guidance systems are necessary. This is where the “joystick” comes in. It’s an inner compass that points in the direction of joy. Most people would hear its message through a positive uplifted feeling or even by physical sensations such as Goosebumps. Although some might consider this frivolous, Karin insists that it’s not. Instead she sees it as powerful feedback system that helps her know whether or not she’s on track. When faced with a decision about next steps, the idea is to make a choice that moves you towards joy.

Another way of calibrating with the joystick is to be aware of what activities, places, people and things give you energy and what ones are drains. As Karin is quick to point out, she does do things that drain her energy (like some of the administrative tasks in running a business). However, these must be in service to the things that bring her joy.  If the pendulum swings too far in favour of energy drain, she knows she’s off track and it’s time to review the situation and see what corrective steps are necessary.

Reflecting on the use of the inner joystick in her life, Karin suggests this process has led to ideas, alliances and positive outcomes that could not have been imagined before each “next step” decision was made. Her move to Salt Spring in 2009 is a perfect example. It was her inner joystick that pointed the way. She never would have imagined the positive impact it’s had on her associates (as a retreat environment for the on-site part of their training). Nor would she have imagined she’d be embracing social media and technology to such an extent and that this would enable she and her colleagues to work from anywhere with people all over the world.

Thank you, Karin — very inspiring for islanders.

Editor’s note: The above is one in a series of articles written by Deborah Wetmore, MBA, CA, and executive director of the Creative Learning Initiative, that will appear every so often in the Driftwood.


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