Armed with 30-some years working in a corporate setting—in sales, marketing, customer service and public relations—in 2012, Bibi Ohlsson struck out on her own.

“Personal development has always been important to me,” says Ohlsson, a life coach and founder of Evoking Excellence ( in Siesta Key, Florida. “As I have grown, I wanted to use my knowledge—and my experiences from my professional life, as well as my personal life, to help others think and act more resourcefully.”

Stay on Track (www.StayOnTrackWith.Us) is a program she developed for young adults and career-changers. “I become an accountability partner for people who want to stay on track,” says Ohlsson, who works with clients virtually—through live online classes, and video and phone sessions—on four continents.

In your role as a life coach and founder of, your philosophy is: “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” Why is attitude so important when tapping into your full potential?

Attitude is a choice. It is within you. Attitude is in our nature. When you are able to see your attitude as your nature, all you need to do is turn your attention from outside to in. It has to connect with your gut. Do you have the gut to do this? Nobody can take your attitude away from you. It is in your control. It is about taking responsibility for where you want to be in life, how you want to feel, how you want to see the world and how invested you are in our life. Your attitude is the essence of your wellbeing.

What role does “attitude” play when it comes to making choices, taking chances, and initiating change in your life?

For some people, initiating change is the hardest thing to do. You have to make yourself stronger than your excuses. Have an open mind. Perseverance requires full effort for the task. Know where you want to be, and have a clear picture of how you want to feel. Then, start taking the small steps to get there.

It’s been said that the only constant in our world today is change. It’s normal to feel anxiety about change and it is often a source of stress. If a person is feeling stressed in advance of an upcoming career change, what recommendations do you have for coping with that stress?

Tension is a natural part of change. Think about how much tension is created when a flower blooms. But tension may also turn into stress, so don’t block the normal dynamics of change. Focus on what to do next. Stress and tension is energy. You have a choice. You can choose to channel your energy.

You can either allow the stress to control you or you can control the stress. When you feel this tension, stop, breathe and connect with yourself and the reason for wanting to go through the changes, and take smaller steps than ever before. When you feel stress, think one hour ahead, two hours ahead, before lunch, or after lunch. Don’t look at the whole journey: that is going to be overwhelming. Just focus on your next step.

When choosing to make a major life change, such as starting a career on a cruise ship, what suggestions do you have for pushing past the natural fear of the unfamiliar?

It’s all about mindfulness and being in the moment. Ask yourself: am I willing to endure the pain to get through this? Practice positive self-talk and connecting with your inner self. Dig deep, take small steps and celebrate. Be open-minded and do not give situations negative labels. Maybe it will help you grow. Do not try to change the universe or situations by saying, ‘If this would happen, then I would do this.’ Just be in the moment. Action is within your control. The outcome is outside of your control. Action comes before motivation. Instantly replace any negative talk with positive talk. By changing the way we think, we can change the way we feel, instantly.

The first 90 days of a new job can be very intense – new hires feel they have to learn everything instantly. What tips can you share for pacing yourself through the “initiation” process?

I always encourage clients to keep a journal. (Or, you can type into your smartphone, or dictate into your smartphone.) Then you can easily see where you came from. At the end of the day, write down what you learned, what you achieved, how you celebrated, and the three best things that happened to you. How did you acknowledge and show appreciation for those people? Decide what you are looking forward to doing tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes, remind yourself when you wake up, ‘What attitude do I need today?’ That’s an awesome tool.

When I work with clients I ask, ‘What are your core values?’ and ‘What do you want your life to be like?’ That’s building a personal brand.

The nature of cruise-ship culture is constant change – change in staffing rotations, management, guests, and itineraries – sometimes on a weekly basis. What character traits do you think are essential to possess in order to successfully handle that type of perpetual change?

The two most important things you can do when going through constant change is to let go of personal preferences and adapt to the situation at hand. This is not about you. It’s about living a life and not winning a war. Channel your energy and do not be stressed by the constant changes and trying to control them.  Problem solving—and seeing things from different perspectives—is another trait. If you are feeling like this is getting to you, be aware how you hold your shoulders and how you are breathing. Be aware of the space you’re in. Focus on the one thing you can do next.