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By Endorsed Mind Body Coach Cathy Dean

To some, the turkey vulture spirit animal is a symbol of renewal, of death and rebirth, but the reason why I love it is that, for me, it’s a symbol of effortlessness.

If you live in Northern California as I do, then you’ve probably seen the turkey vulture seemingly dance across the sky without ever moving its wings more than the tiniest adjustment. Effortless.

Wing Flapping and Over-Efforting

As a high achiever, my past has been wrought with accomplishing goals using a whole lot of wing flapping—i.e., using a lot of effort to get something done.

If I didn’t immediately achieve something, I would try to bend the whole situation to my will—flapping my wings even harder—though of course, results did not yield much more than me tired, frustrated, and angry.

For example, I had dreamt of buying an SUV for 2 years, but every time I looked, I couldn’t find one I could afford. I went to dealerships. I looked on Craigslist. I crunched the numbers. Trying to bend the situation to my will.

But it was when I gave up and resigned myself to saving and waiting that the perfect SUV appeared. My parents decided to sell me their Honda Pilot—with a very generous daughter discount—and within a month, the SUV I had been dreaming of was mine. Just like that. With minimal effort.

All goals are as much about timing as they are about preparedness.

Accomplishing Goals is About Timing

And that’s another reason to love the turkey vulture: it takes advantage of its environment and timing. When there’s roadkill, it eats. When the sky is still, it waits. When the air flows, it rides each current higher and higher until it can simply coast and soar.

The vulture does not try to make the wind blow by sheer willpower. Nope.

It doesn’t even kill its own food.

It just waits until conditions are perfect; then it eats. Then it flies.

Why the High Achiever Needs the Turkey Vulture

The turkey vulture is a really important reminder that we don’t need to force and use our willpower to accomplish our goals—or at least we can add another tool to our toolbox. We can be opportunists as much as masters of our own destinies. We can be patient and wait for the conditions to be right, and then move through parts of life with effortless grace.

Even with this guest blog that I’m writing, I had an opportunity to reach for effortlessness. I could either 1) sit in my chair and will the words to come, forcing myself to write even if I didn’t feel it or 2) I could test the air currents several times a day to see when the time was “write.” Haha, sorry I couldn’t help myself with that one.

Since the turkey vulture is my spirit animal, I chose the second option. This is my fourth attempt at writing this blog…not out of a sense of wanting it to be perfect, but out of a sense of wanting my experience with writing to be as effortless as possible.

And let me tell you, this fourth attempt has flown by while I felt like I would have preferred to stick needles in my eyes on the first three attempts.

It’s worth a try. Trust me. It feels so much better.

Want some hints about letting the turkey vulture into your achiever lifestyle?

  1. Try adopting the theme of effortlessness. Effortlessness has been my mantra for a few months now, and it surprises me how it smooths out the kinks in my day. Before I used to barrel through obstacles. Now I use finesse and smaller adjustments to fly around obstacles instead of through them. Or sometimes I just stop flying altogether in order to wait out a rainstorm. What will you stop doing for all the effort it requires? What will come naturally when you ask for something to happen effortlessly?
  2. Stay in your zone of genius: Just as the turkey vulture is effortless when it’s in its zone of genius in the sky, so can you be effortless when you’re in the zone. Plan your day so you can be working in areas that feel effortless. Spend as much time as you can in those sky-bound places.
  3. Wait: Where have you put extra pressure on yourself? Be kind to yourself and put aside a project that isn’t flowing for another day or another time in the same day. What feels like pulling teeth in the morning might be an easy 20-minute task in the afternoon.
  4. Feel Yourself Flying: Instead of worrying about the how of an upcoming goal, simply notice the present moment. Take a moment to notice your body once a day. Either try gentle exercise to begin to notice your body, or if you prefer, sit down, take three deep breaths, and take time to notice your feet and your hands. Connect to yourself. You can add a visualization if you’d like: imagine you’re flying effortlessly through the sky like the turkey vulture: safe, connected, soaring.

As you can see, when you apply effortlessness as a theme to your life and allow the turkey vulture to remind you of who you are—patient, graceful, effortless—the sky’s just the beginning!
Cathy DeanCathy Dean is a certified Martha Beck coach and endorsed Mind Body coach who helps in-demand, entrepreneurial high-achieving women free themselves from stress so they can reach for more abundance and adventure.

Cathy used to feel trapped by a to-do list that never ends, felt rushed all the time, and overwhelmed by a constant self-pressure to succeed at everything. Once she reduced her stress—with the help of mind-body tools and the turkey vulture—she finally had the energy and aliveness to effortlessly pursue adventure and recognize the abundance in her life.

If you would like to learn more about living an effortless life, check out Cathy’s latest eBook Effortless: SOARing into Abundance and Adventure available at