Break The Norm, Be A Unicorn: Creating Positive Change in Vet Med and Our World


If you’re not cool with the current state of vet med or our world, hi and same. 💗

That’s why I’m all about breaking the norm and being “a unicorn”.

What's a "unicorn"?

A unicorn is someone (or something - like a vet hospital) that’s breaking the norm and leading by example to be the positive change we need in this world.

The norm is to be unhappy and unhealthy. People notice unicorns because they have a different energy and use challenges as opportunities for growth + change.

I love a good acronym so let’s break down UNICORN:

U - Unites and Uplifts

N - Nervous system regulation

I - Inquires for Insight

C - Compassion for Connection

O - Objective vs subjective

R - Respect and Resilience

N - New Norm

Let's get into the details...

U - Unites and Uplifts

A unicorn focuses on ways to unite and uplift everyone together to create positive change in our world rather than getting caught up in polarization, judgment, and blame.

They don't see someone with a different opinion or perspective as a threat. They see them as an opportunity to understand different perspectives, to find common ground, and to problem solve.


Instead of making assumptions about people based on a label like their political party, not listening, and thinking “I can’t believe they’re such a horrible person how could they possibly think that”, you’re willing to listen to their opinions and perspectives to understand where they’re coming from and to look for common ground because we can only make progress when we’re working together.

N - Nervous System Regulation

A unicorn looks at things from a nervous system perspective, because a nervous system is the one thing that we all (humans and animals) have in common and it’s at the root of everything.

They have adopted a fear free approach with themselves and others:

  • they PAUSE when they observe a stress response
  • get CURIOUS about why something is feeling hard/unsafe/overwhelming
  • IDENTIFY what needs to happen to re-establish safety
  • create a BOUNDARY if that's not possible 


Rude clients don’t bother you, because you see them as a human who is dealing with something hard/feeling overwhelmed rather than it being personal. You meet them with curiosity and compassion rather than reactivity and judgment so that you not only don’t absorb their negative energy, you often help to neutralize theirs.

I - Inquire for Insight

A unicorn embraces curiosity, because they know that judgment only stalls progress and smothers joy. They meet challenges with curiosity, because that opens the door to endless opportunities for problem-solving and growth.

Example: When you inhale a burger, fries, and soda at the end of a shift instead of having the healthy dinner you had planned,instead of judging yourself and feeling guilty because you were “bad” you get curious about why you ate something that made you feel crappy when you want to be making healthy changes.

Insight: You realize work was insane and stressful and you didn’t have time to eat lunch so you were starving and craving something high calorie and comforting for a moment of peace. You also notice that you never really feel satisfied when you’re eating “healthy”. You use all that information to help to set yourself up better next time.

C - Compassion for Connection

A unicorn is resilient, because they treat themselves with compassion no matter what. They know that their body’s one mission it to take care of them, so they listen to their body, mind, and heart to connect with what they need in order to protect their energy and sanity.

By being in tune with and prioritizing their own needs, they are able to treat others with compassion and to connect with them in a way that feels genuine rather than draining.


On a Wed. night when your friend invites you out for dinner after work, you notice that your body gets tense because you were really craving an evening alone watching TV and going to bed early. Instead of saying “yes” because you feel bad, you let your friend know you need a chill night and schedule plans to catch up for coffee on the weekend. Your friendship strengthens because your friend can actually totally relate and appreciates that you’re comfortable sharing how you really feel.

O - Objective vs subjective

A unicorn recognizes that their brain can be really quick to make up stories and assumptions that aren’t helpful, so they make a point of noticing when they’re having a thought that doesn’t feel good (ex: it’s causing worry, anxiety, anger, etc) and they look at the facts instead.


The house is a mess and your partner is watching TV while you’re cleaning. You think, “I can’t believe he expects me to do everything” with resentment, and then notice that he never said that to you. The facts: you are cleaning and he is not. Instead you share, “I notice I’m feeling frustrated because I feel like you expect me to do the cleaning, but that might not actually be true. Can you share your perspective?” You learn he plans to clean in the afternoon, but work this week was insane so he needed to recharge. You realize you also need to recharge, you’re just stuck in the flight/flight stress response and realize your resentment was really just jealousy and you give yourself permission to chill, too.

R - Respect and Resilience

A unicorn knows that nothing productive can happen unless there is mutual respect. When mutual respect isn’t possible, they create a boundary to protect their energy and sanity.


You notice your inner critic saying “you can’t do anything right” and dismiss that thought and replace it with “this is feeling hard, because I’m outside of my comfort zone but I’m proud that I’m learning and growing so much”.

You meet a rude client with compassion and curiosity and try to help them to feel seen and heard but they won’t listen and continue to be disrespectful. You recognize you can’t work together without respect, so you create a boundary and fire them.

One thing a unicorn isn't: perfect. A unicorn knows that striving for perfection is a sign of being stuck in the flight stress response. They are resilient because they see challenges as opportunities to get curious about what's not working so that they can learn, grow, and problem-solve. They can make it through any challenges or mistakes that arise because they are kind to themselves no matter what. With this approach, they are always moving forward in life in a way that is aligned with their values through the highs and lows.  


You make a mistake that harms a patient and you're absolutely devastated and afraid you're going to lose your license. You know that now more than ever it's important that you be extra gentle with yourself, because you know that the reason this is so painful is because you care and you didn't have an ill intention. You prioritize time to process emotions so you're not paralyzed in a state of despair and shut down and you get the support you need in order to to have the hard conversations, learn from what happened, and move forward one step at a time.

You know that even if the worst case scenario that you're imaging happens of losing your license, you will have your own back and you will be okay. You end up connecting with other vets who share similar stories and you use the mistake to speak up for big changes in your hospital that help to improve safety and patient care for hundreds of pets. That one mistake ends up becoming a turning point in your career where you start speaking up for what you and your patients need, and it helps you to be an amazing and approachable mentor for new grads.

N - New Norm

A unicorn recognizes that the current norm isn’t working, so they’re okay with being “weird” and doing things differently in order to create a new norm where it’s convenient to thrive rather than the default to be unhealthy and unhappy.

By breaking the norm, they create a positive ripple effect in their own life and in the world around them. People notice their positive vibe and energy and want to know what they’re doing.

Unicorns feel content that even if the world around them doesn’t make sense, they are doing their part in protecting their energy and sanity and leading by example in creating the positive change they want to see in this world. 💗

Unicorns are magical and I truly believe that we have the power to change the world - one unicorn at a time. If you can relate to not loving the current state of our world, join me in breaking the norm!

I believe that anyone who wants to create positive changes in their life should have the resources and support to be able to make that happen, which is why I have a variety of programs and free resources to meet you where you are in a way that feels doable. 

Send me an email at so we can find the one that’s right for you or check out my podcast or my other resources and programs

Can you relate to not loving the current state of vet med or our world right now?

Leave a comment or send me an email at letting me know what resonates most.

P.s. Quick background if you’re new here: 

👋I’m Amelia - a recovered burnt out veterinarian, health and life coach, unicorn vet hospital consultant, and very curious nerd 🤓 obsessed with learning, seeing how everything in our world is connected, getting to the root issue of challenges, and problem solving.

I reached burnout as a vet despite it being my childhood dream. Since that point, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand “what went wrong?!” when I worked SO hard trying to follow all the rules that we’re taught lead to health and success. 

That led me down the most amazing, eye-opening path that I’m now so grateful for! Recovering from burnout helped to unchain me from patterns that had been weighing me down most of my life (which is why that's what I now help others do, too).

What I’ve realized: most of the messages and rules we’re taught about how to be healthy and successful actually lead to the exact opposite. 😑 


❌ Most of the messages around being “healthy” are focused on “being good” and creating an energy deficit (restricting calories and burning them). That message is literally EXHAUSTING. Why would anyone want to keep that up long term? 

✅ When you approach health in a way that is focused on adding pleasure, energy, and fulfillment to your life and do things because you WANT to not because you “should”, it’s an absolute game changer. 

❌You’re taught that your body is an inconvenience or the enemy that needs to be ignored or controlled through willpower, pills, diets, etc. 

✅ Your body is actually the one thing in this world devoted to taking care of you. You can trust it. When it feels like it’s not cooperating or doesn’t feel good, that’s really valuable information about a need that you have that’s not being met. 

❌ We have normalized being stuck in survival mode and numbing uncomfortable emotions with comfort food, alcohol, screens, and pills. The stress response is only intended for short term survival. You cannot thrive in survival mode. 

✅ Starting to shift out of survival mode and learning how to process emotions and listen to your body and what you need instead of the “no pain no gain” mindset and self-sacrificing is empowering AF and will transform your career, relationships, health… seriously everything. 

Break the norm and be a unicorn with me so we can create a new norm that makes sense. 🦄💗


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