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How Chocolate Taught Tina Codinha Lessons on Self-Awareness, Business, and Trusting Your Intuition

Many of us experience pivots and changes throughout our careers — I know I have.

But what drives those changes?

And, how do we know when we end up in the right place?

Because anyone can quit their job and go get another one. The harder thing is to find that career or purpose that you are fully aligned with. Something where you know that you know that you know it’s the best place for you.

Following your intuition and cultivating deep self-awareness is a process. It’s an ongoing process, too, one you’ll need to be continually working on. But learning to follow your intuition is the only way to find purpose, meaning, and alignment in your career and life.

Just ask Tina Codinha. She was a guest on the Determined AF podcast (episode 26 and episode 27) to share her story with us. Here’s what we can learn about self-awareness and intuition from her.

Tina’s Story

Tina is a chocolatier. Yep, she makes chocolate for a living. Talk about being the perfect example of someone who took her passion and turned it into a business!

But before becoming a successful chocolatier and now co-owner of Codinha Chocolate, Tina was in a very different place.

Born into a traditional family of people in the medical field, Tina grew up knowing it was just expected of her to follow suit. She pursued pre-med in college, but felt unfulfilled and depressed during her time —it didn’t align with what she wanted to do.

So, Tina took some time to get really clear on her passions. She looked inward and asked: What makes me happy? 

The answer? Chocolate.

Shortly after coming to that realization, Tina heard a speaker at a career fair share about his experience moving from a decades-long career in medicine and pivoting to the chocolate industry.

Not only did it open her eyes to what was possible — chocolate can be a career! — but it was a deeply affirming experience of her newfound passion.

From there, Tina pivoted and worked hard to build a career in the chocolate industry. She moved to New York without a job lined up and basically cold-called some of the top pros in the industry. She was able to get work, study chocolate, and keep working her way up until launching her own chocolate business during the pandemic.

“I think it's just that constant inner dialogue that we have to tell ourselves again - trust what you feel, trust what you see and believe it, no matter what anyone else is telling you, no matter if someone else tried it and failed.”

Alignment and Intuition

When Tina reflects back to the time before her chocolate “awakening,” she sees how she was just going through the motions. She hadn’t explored career opportunities but defaulted to something that was expected of her.

And this is something many of us experience.

We think we should do something. We look at someone else and follow their exact path… We don’t always look deep into ourselves and ask what we want or what would make us happy.

In other words, we don’t do the inner work to find alignment.

But alignment is so important. It’s how you can find purpose and meaning in your everyday work and life. It’s the driving force behind your decisions and life changes.

So how do we become more aligned? For Tina, it was about increasing her self-awareness and following her intuition. Here are some ways she did it:

  • Stop: First you, have to stop and reflect on where you are and where you want to be. This came for Tina during her pre-med studies when she took stock of how she was feeling and what would be a positive change in her life.
  • Believe: The next step is believing that you can actually make a change and pursue your passions. Tina loves this quote from Alchemist: “When you decide what you want, the universe conspires with you.”
  • Pursue: Action comes next. You need to go out and take steps to make your dream a reality. For Tina, this was cold-calling chocolatiers, moving to a new city, and tenaciously following up with people.

Alignment happens both inwardly and outwardly — you can be aligned in your mind and beliefs and then walk out that alignment in your decisions and actions.

Self-Awareness is an Ongoing Journey

Tina took many leaps of faith in her journey. She had a “figure-it-out” mentality that allowed her to take big risks. Her connection to her goals and passions allowed her to step out and gain traction toward her goals.

Self-awareness is a big piece in this. Not only did Tina have to be self-aware about her goals, passions, and dreams, but she had to be self-aware in the process to get there. She had to analyze opportunities to determine what works and what doesn’t work.

But you don’t just wake up with self-awareness one day — it’s an ongoing journey. Tina shared a few ways she stays aligned with her purpose and intentionally cultivates self-awareness:

  • Ignore the nay-sayers: People will come after you, your ideas, your choices, and it makes you doubt your initial vision or dream. Ignore them and carry on with your purposeful alignment.
  • Focus on your inner dialogue: Positive self-talk and affirmations can help you stay aligned with your passions and ignore the negative doubters around you.
  • Invest in coaching: Bring someone else into your journey who can help you make strategic decisions and keep you on track with your goals and ideas.
  • Engage in positive content: Tina enjoys listening to positive podcasts that are motivating and encouraging.

There are many ways to tap into your own deeper self-awareness. The key is to be intentional about it — have conversations about it, be reflective, and stay aware of what influences you accept.

"From the moment you wake up, just visualize what you want your life to be. And don't doubt for a second that it's possible. Going through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship is just waking up every single day and remembering what you want for yourself and saying to yourself, I'm worthy and I believe that I can have it.”

From Side Hustle to Business

Today, Codinha Chocolates is a successful, thriving company. But it took a lot of work to get there. The biggest challenge for Tina and her husband, co-owner of the company, was shifting from a side hustle to a business — from passion to profit.

It started by looking at why her initial side hustle didn’t do well. Tina looked critically at why it failed so she could do something different in the future.

For Tina, there were a few key lessons all entrepreneurs can learn from:

  • Treat your business like a business: Before starting her company, Tina knew chocolate — not business. She had to learn the fundamentals of how to run a real business in order to be successful.
  • Get your house in order: Before she could run a successful business, Tina realized she had work to do with her own personal finances. Getting this in order set her up for future success.
  • Don’t underestimate the time it takes: Transitioning from a side hustle to a profitable business takes a lot of time, effort, and resources — be prepared for it!
  • Reverse-engineer your goals: Start with the big vision of what you want — for your career, yes, but also your lifestyle. Consider how much time you want to spend with family or how much you want to work. From there, reverse-engineer your ultimate goal into manageable and actionable steps.
  • Sales don’t have to be salesy: Instead of adopting a car-salesman attitude, focus on each interaction as a genuine connection and conversation. Your passion and enthusiasm will make an impact and bring in the right people to support your goals.

Reaching your goals or achieving success in your career ultimately comes down to two things: the internal mindset of alignment and self-awareness — your ability to follow your intuition — and the external action steps you should take to get there.

Tina is such an inspiration to me and we can all learn a lot from her journey! I encourage you to listen to her full interview in the two-part series on the Determined AF podcast (episode 26 and episode 27). You can also check out her website, Codinha Chocolate, or follow along on Instagram.


And if you’re looking for some support to increase your own self-awareness to pursue your dreams, I’ve got you. Check out my free Self-Awareness Mastery tool. It’s designed to help you tap into your own intuition through self-awareness to create the aligned life you desire.

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Other posts that may interest you:

If you're like Tina and are experiencing outside pressure, check out:  Pressure is a Real Thing: Releasing Expectations Through Self Awareness

Are you a growing entrepreneur? Check out: 7 Reasons Why You Need Business Systems

If you have plans to scale your business now or in the future, then be sure to read The Power of Segmentation: Why You Need to Start Tagging Your Leads and How To Do It

**Disclosure** This post may contain affiliate links and they are at no additional cost to you, though I may earn a small commission. Don't worry, I only recommend products or services that I have tried or believe would be of great value to you! All opinions expressed are those of my own!

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