Start A New Chapter

Start A New Chapter

Start A New Chapter

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Start A New Chapter In Life

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

For decades, counselors and life coaches approached career development like a big matching game. They believed that finding the “right” career was a matter of measuring a person’s strengths, talents, interests, and personality, then choosing the path that aligned most closely. 

You can apply this “matching” approach to choosing a partner, or a place to live, or a new hobby. It’s a handy paradigm for making decisions — but it’s not the only paradigm. 

The “life design” or narrative approach to counseling and coaching starts with the assumption that you are an adaptable, malleable human being capable of tremendous growth and positive change in pursuit of your most important goals. 

By approaching your life as a narrative that you’re actively constructing day by day, you become empowered to change your story about who you are and what you’re capable of. 

Change Your Story

When you reflect on the story of your life, which plot points stand out to you as times when you were at your best, tapping into your potential, and truly sharing your gifts with the world

These likely weren’t the most comfortable experiences of your life. In fact, they may have been incredibly challenging. But they gave you an opportunity to grow and adapt, and the result was increased self-confidence and a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. 

If you can discover what it was about those experiences that put you in touch with your best self, you will have a North Star to guide you in the direction of meaningful, rewarding work that you love

Starting a New Chapter In Life

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

Lao Tzu

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, or have a nagging sense that you could do more and be more, that’s a sign that you’re ready to start a new chapter in life, at work or in another area. 

Start by reflecting on how you got where you are. How did you choose your current path? Which decisions were really deliberative, and which just felt like the thing you were supposed to do, or the logical “next step?” 

Your answers here will tell you a lot about the values, conscious or unconscious, that have been shaping your story up until this point. Once you have a clear sense of what your values have been, you can decide whether to carry them forward, or shed them for values that are more aligned with the new story you want to create. 

Getting Unstuck

When you’ve invested a lot of time (and money!) in education and training to break into a specific career, it’s not easy to admit to yourself or others that you’re unhappy. 

To get unstuck, it helps to examine your expectations about how careers are “supposed” to go. If you’re like most people, you chose your career path as a young adult, and you likely expected to work in the same field until retirement. 

But in reality, major career changes are incredibly common. If you’re unsatisfied — with your career, your relationship, or any other major life circumstance — are you really willing to endure your current path for another decade? Or three? This is the “sunk cost” fallacy at work. It’s a very human mindset, but it doesn’t lead to courageous, empowered decision-making based on the life you really want. 

Instead of focusing on the investments you’ve already made that can’t be recovered, focus on the new insights you’ve gained about what you want out of life, and the opportunities you have here and now to begin creating it. 

A New Chapter Begins

For many of us, the coronavirus crisis has been a time for re-examining how work fits into our lives. 

We’re seeing the result of all that reflection in what some are calling the “Great Resignation,” an economic and labor trend in which tens of thousands of workers have left their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. 

While the labor shortage has caused serious stress for business owners, it’s a signal that our collective attitudes toward careers are shifting, and that people are beginning new chapters with new values in mind. 

Writing My Next Chapter

When we’re unhappy with some area of our lives, we often feel an impulse to get away and start something new as quickly as possible. We may quit a job to pursue a shiny new opportunity, or leave a partner and immediately enter a new relationship, for example. 

But it’s important to step back and think about your own role in creating whatever circumstances you’re eager to leave behind. If you skip that step before making a major change, you’re likely to find yourself in a similar situation again. 

It’s not easy to take responsibility for a relationship, job, or any other pursuit that didn’t go as you’d hoped. But by looking at past patterns and recognizing your role in creating them, you become empowered to write an exciting new chapter. 

A Fresh Start

The New Year is upon us, and so many of us are feeling energized to make major, positive changes. 

What would you like to bring into your life in this New Year? What would you like to leave behind? 

I hope our conversation gives you a chance to reflect on these questions, and some guidance on making real changes that stick. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below. 

Cheers to the next chapter, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music in this episode is by Wet Leg, with their song Chaise Longue.

You can support them and their work by visiting their Bandcamp page here: https://wetleg.bandcamp.com/ Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.

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The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Start A New Chapter: Episode Highlights

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Have you been feeling like it's time for a new chapter in life? A fresh start? A new beginning for your relationship? Or maybe it's time for a career change? Maybe it's time to change your story — the one you've been telling yourself about who you are, what you're worth, and what you can expect from the world because learning how to rewrite your story is one of the single most powerful things you can do, not just to change your life, but also how you experience it. That, my friend, is what we're going to learn how to do on today's show with the help of my expert guest, Dr. Lisa Severy

Now, I am going to go ahead and give Dr. Lisa a proper introduction here because she is so incredibly modest that she would probably never tell you about what a big deal she really is if I gave her the opportunity. You should know that Dr. Lisa is not just an amazing therapist, not just an amazing career counselor and career coach, she is also a past president of both the National Career Development Association and the Colorado Career Development Association. She is the former Director of Career Services at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

She is the author of numerous book chapters devoted to the art and science of career counseling and professional development counseling. Dr. Lisa does career counseling, executive coaching, life coaching, and therapy. She has a PhD in Counselor Education, and a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. She currently serves on the boards of both the National Career Development Association and the American Counseling Association. I am so proud to call her my colleague here at our practice of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. 

Dr. Lisa, welcome.

Dr. Lisa Severy: Thank you so much. I love to hear that. Such a confidence booster as we lead right into this. Thank you so much.

Lisa Marie Bobby: It's so true. I don't know if I ever told you this, but when you first applied to join our practice, our colleague Rachel sent over your materials, and I looked over your CV, and I spit out my green tea a little bit. I was like, “Oh,” because you have just — seriously such an amazing career. You've been such a leader in the field of career counseling, but you are so modest about it. When we were working on your bio to put on our website, we were like, “No! You have to tell people about all of those things.” And you're like, “Oh, okay,” so nice about it. I mean, it's just amazing. 

Here's the first interview question, Dr. Lisa. Why are the most genuinely accomplished people so humble, while kind of questionable and marginally qualified people are shouting to the world about how great they are. I think Sarah Silverman made a comment not too long ago, “One in five residents of the State of California are now some kind of self-anointed life coach or success coach of some kind.” They're happy to tell you all about it, but not the real deal. Inquiring minds would like to know, what do you make of that?

Lisa Severy: It’s probably funny because it probably has a lot to do with cliches about practicing what you preach. Of course, all the clients that I work with, that's a major part of searching for a new job, changing careers, reaching out to your network. There are introverted ways of doing that. But still, it's really hard to do partly because, I don't know about you, but for most of life, you just doing what you do. Something comes up, and you respond, and you do what you do. You don't usually think about it in that holistic way. 

But I certainly do feel privileged to be a part of working with individual clients and then having conversations at the national and international level about everything that's happening with employment and unemployment, and professional practice things like licensure, and making sure people are practicing within their scope so that clients are protected. There's just a lot going on, and I love those conversations. It's a lot of fun for me. It's nice to have it framed in a nice package. But it really does just feel like — I just kind of do what I do each day and try to keep up with what's going on in the field, which is ever changing and a lot of fun.

Career Counseling

Lisa Marie Bobby: That was awesome. Well, the world needs standard bearers such as yourself to make sure — but that's wonderful. Clearly, you love what you do, which is, I think, the goal of so many people. That's why I'm just so thrilled to get your perspective on our topic today because you are — I know you're a therapist, but you specialize in career counseling and career development, career coaching. 

The reason why I really wanted to talk with you today is because you use a particular theory of change to help your clients figure themselves out, and create a meaningful, meaningful path forward. It is a narrative approach. If somebody is listening to this and is ready to create a new chapter — a fresh start to go in a different direction, perhaps with their career or another part of their life — Tell us a little bit about why that narrative approach is so powerful and important.

Lisa Severy: Yes, great. I'd love to. I think it might be helpful to start off how I came to become aware of this. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: Tell us your story.

Lisa Severy: Exactly. Because when I was in graduate school — in my master's level program, I had a basic class in career development basically geared towards how to pass the National Counseling Exam, which is great. Of course, career makes up a big chunk of that, but it was very much focused on career development practice that had been since we launched. The National Association actually celebrated its 100th anniversary back in 2013. It's been around for a while. But it was, and appropriately at the time, when it came into being, it was a lot about matching. So matching —

Lisa Marie Bobby: You’re talking about the field of career counseling right now.

Lisa Severy: The field. The approach to career counseling was called person-to-position fit. The idea was if you test the heck out of the person and you characterize a position, or a place or a type of job, you just measure the heck out of these things, and then match them up. That was really the career development mode we used for most of the last 100 years. It worked very well, especially when large groups of people were returning to the workforce — like people coming back from war and those types of situations where we had to do it quick. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: Electrician, plumber, right.

Lisa Severy: Exactly, “So here's what we know about you. Here's what we know about this world of work. Let's match up.” It worked, as I said, for a long time. I remember going to a conference and hearing a theorist talk about a different approach, which really is much more proactive, and it fits under two categories, I think. One is positive psychology; so it's very much focused on strengths and what people bring to the world. I mean, the world of work is really how we bring ourselves and our talents to other people. Otherwise, our family and friends know us, but the way we interact with the world is through work. 

The question then became, “Does this really work?” I always think of the quote from Shrek, where he's trying to describe to Donkey that, “Life is like an onion. It has layers, and you just peel it back.” We kind of approached career like that. There is a deep calling. There's a career somewhere inside you, and we just have to find it. That's wonderful for those people it worked for. 

For most of us, no, I don't really have a latent career in there that's waiting to be discovered. Why don't we design it? The whole function of life design, really, is in this group of theories called “constructivist theories,” which is basically, “Let's not just try to figure out something that's there. Let's kind of make it up as we go.” That might be kind of scary for a lot of people. I know it's scary for me, but at the same time, there's a lot of power there. In narrative career counseling, really, take a few steps back, and instead of assessing things like skills and personality type and values, it's kind of clustering it all together under the umbrella of themes. 

What are your life themes? They could be positive or negative. I mean, all of us, but some have had awful things happen in their lives and in their careers. It becomes a part, I think, of the narrator — that voice in the back of your brain that is narrating your life. Sometimes those messages that are coming out, “You're strong. You can do this. You've survived a lot.” Others, quite frankly, not so helpful, right? “You're stupid. You can't do this.” Like all of those things that are negative too. 

The idea behind the narrative career counseling is helping a client to develop, “Okay, these are the themes that I want. These are the themes that I want to keep moving forward here. The ones, maybe, I want to reframe, and rewrite. They, maybe, served a great purpose at the time, but they're not helping me anymore, and I need to reframe them and reuse them.” Then, figure out okay, “Now that I know my themes for my story, what do I want my next plot step to be?” Those things just go hand in hand.

What Is Your Story?

Lisa Marie Bobby: As you're talking, what I'm hearing through my framework — that themes are really those like values, and that, “What is most important to me in the whole world? What am I put here to do? What am I about?” This is wonderful. This is what I love about your work, and why I wanted to talk to you today is because of the depth that you bring to career counseling. 

I think there are so many parallels to all kinds of different life changes. I know you're a coach and a therapist too. Just even the way you talk about career stuff, it's so holistic. I think that you still kind of think about that career counseling as being very cut and dry — like you go see a career counselor, and you take an assessment, and you get the results, “Okay, it looks like I should be a forest ranger. Now, I'm going to research national parks and put out a resume, and now I am standing in the Grand Canyon, swearing in Junior Rangers, and we're done.” Like that kind of thing.

What you're saying is, it's so much different. You're really cracking into who people are, what they are about on very fundamental levels, and where have you been, where are you going, what is meaningful, what is important, and not just with your job, but almost your entire existence. Now, let's talk about how that career path fits into that, which is a totally different thing. The truth is, I think a lot of people could actually do many different things successfully and well, and make a nice living. That's another form of paralysis, right? How do you even choose where you want to go next? 

Lisa Severy: Absolutely. Well, it's always funny to me because so many people, still, will talk about work-life balance. I don't know what that looks like anymore. It's not that we leave work at work, especially as a result of the pandemic. I mean, look, right now. We're both in our houses, right? It's just a very funny thing. Because generally, our work and life are so enmeshed with each other, that it's funny that we still kind of talk about them separately. 

I think in terms of that, really diving into the metaphor of storytelling, and thinking about not what the last chapter is going to be, but what your next chapter is going to be because I completely agree with you too. Most people would be happy and successful in a lot of different career fields. Interest is certainly a huge part of that. What is interesting enough to you that it will hold your attention for 40 hours plus a week? That's, of course, important. 

But in terms of the things that are really reinforcing to you, that you do the things that you do well, and you're working with people that you like and enjoy, and feel a sense of teamwork, and a sense of community — all of those pieces are just as important as your actual work function that you do each day. I like to think of it — I think I've shared this with you before — but I think of two layers related to career and stories. If you think about it for a moment, maybe it's Lemony Snicket, I don't know. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: I love that show!

Lisa Severy: If you think of your favorite story, and some people think iconic things — Gone With The Wind or whatever — just a really important story to use — Star Wars. Think about what's happening. There's generally things happening on two levels. One is the story itself, and that's the part that you get all excited, and you describe to a friend,  hopefully with no spoilers. But you describe that to a friend, “This happened, this happened, this happened.” Then, if you ask them, “Okay, what's the underlying theme?” Most people will share something slightly different. Some things are universal, but some things touch each of us as individuals at a very different level, either personally or because you're at a certain period of your life that you just kind of attach yourself to a certain theme. That, to me, is the difference. 

Things like a resume have been at this plot level, right? You outline, “I was at this job. I was at this job. I have this many supervisees,  this many billable hours.” Whatever the case may be, but the theme underneath is really different for everybody. I think about that. Well, the interesting part is, whenever you ask someone to tell a story — does not matter the topic — they're going to tell you their themes. If I were to ask you, “Tell me about your very first memory.” Because we're humans, and we categorize things, you're going to tell me a story that has something to do with the themes in your life. 

When I work with a client, that is my only goal at the beginning — is just to get them to tell stories about themselves. Not necessarily — it could be work related, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. An example I use is when I was in high school, I was part of the soccer team and part of the choir. Nobody else overlaps between those two. But I was the person on the team that wasn't “the party person” or whatever. But whenever anybody had a problem, I was the one that they came to — with family, boyfriends, whatever the case may be. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: I could totally see that.

Lisa Severy: Now, I'm a counselor, right? That theme absolutely followed me throughout. Again, when I'm working with a client, regardless of what it is, I use a lot of various techniques, various questioning to get people to think about, what are their underlying themes, and how does that come out in the stories that they tell? How can we build that into their story moving forward?

Lisa Marie Bobby: Got it. Got it. Getting away from the facts, the circumstances — you had this job, and you had that job — and really thinking more about the things that feel important to you that are almost patterns that come up over and over and over again in your life, times when you felt flow, or sort of maybe were using your natural talents, or just taking pleasure. I bet it felt nice to you when people would come and talk to you. 

Lisa Severy: Absolutely!

Making a Career Change

Lisa Marie Bobby: That sort of quasi-counselor role after soccer practice or whatever — because that was just what you are supposed to do. Without thinking about those times of… When was I being my — I hate to use such a corny phrase — but “best self”? You know what I mean? When was I just being my — this is so vital because I think what you're also shining a light down is the path towards having a career path and work in your life that is genuinely enjoyable and pleasurable, and fun. 

I think that for so many people — which is crappy to think about — but getting hooked into jobs or careers, situations where they're just showing up, they're doing it, they're getting the paycheck, and their life is — it's almost like they're enduring their time. It's like you can actually love it. I mean, we all have days, but, I don't know about you, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would come right back here, and be sitting at this desk and doing the same thing. Do you know what I mean? Because it's not connected to that for me. It's like I just like it.

Lisa Severy: I talked to some clients before about an 80-20 rule. I find in general, if you like it 80% of the time, there's always going to be stuff that you don't necessarily like. It's not all rosy types of careers. There are careers that are very necessary and very rewarding that are really difficult. One of one of my many career paths was working as a victim's advocate. That was very hard to do. It wasn't the content that was necessarily reinforcing but the ability to make a difference in the lives of those victims who'd been through some very traumatic things — of course that's rewarding. 

Especially for some very high functioning folks who get sort of into traps. They're making a lot of money, or they’re in a very prestigious position, but it's not really connected to who they are. We all know people who are the opposite who absolutely adore their jobs — they do. Like leap out of bed to go do the work that they do because they're enjoying it so much. I know in various positions in my own past, I thought, “That's what I want to be like. I'm here because it's comfortable.” Comfortable might be a terrible word for us. We might want to just get rid of that level.

The thought is, “Can it be better?” When you improve, as with everything else, it bleeds into everything. You could say, “Well, I'm doing this job. I kind of hate it, but I'll keep doing it because I have a family to support, and I need the health insurance.” And whatever. All of those things are valid and true. That level of stress and anxiety is going home with you. Your general sense of not feeling engaged at all in what you're doing. Again, 40 plus hours a week — you can't really be a full healthy human if you're experiencing that, and we all deserve better than that.

Lisa Marie Bobby: I agree. It's such a devil's bargain in some ways. I'm just the parallel of just enduring a really terrible relationship. So much of your life energy is going into that as into a career that is just not compatible and not congruent with who you fundamentally are, and what your life is really about. That's a hard spot to be in, even if intellectually, it makes sense. Also, let's all just acknowledge that there's a lot of privilege involved in being able to do exactly what we want to do all the time. There's that. 

Okay. This is super helpful. I know that we have people listening right now who would love to get some of your insights on how to launch this growth process inside of themselves. With your permission, I'm just going to pretend to be one of our listeners here for a minute. Let's say, I show up to see you for a first session with you, and I say: 

“Dr. Lisa, I feel so stuck. I have a job. It's okay. I don't love it. I feel like there has to be more to life. I know that I can be more and do more, and feel more fulfilled. Not just by my career, but my whole life maybe, right? But I'm just having so much trouble getting a handle on what I should be doing instead. I think about things if I start to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by all the options. I just don't, right? I managed to fill up my time with distractions. I keep trudging along in my little rut, and oh — look, another year has gone by, and here I am. Dr. Lisa, what do I do?”

Now, I know career counseling is a whole process, and you work with people for months — no, really — like months, helping them dig in and sort through all this stuff. A podcast is not the same as doing this with you. I mean, what advice would you give to a listener who is in that space and really eager to begin doing some of this deep existential work? Making contact with their themes, and trying to figure out like, “Where's my lighthouse? What should I move towards?” What are some questions you might ask, or things you might invite them to think more about, or ask themselves? I mean, I know everybody's different but —

Lisa Severy: Well, I think — as with a lot of counseling of course, my first part of the process is to ask way too many questions. I'm sure that's what it feels like as a client, right? Just like trying to get it everything. I think a starting point is really to ask people how they got where they are. Because most people don't start from, “Okay, I'm going to try to find a mediocre job that I can just slog through.” Sometimes, people's jobs have changed dramatically from when they started. It could be that they kept getting offered — again, self-disclosure. When I was the director of the career center, or even working in a career center, I kept getting offered jobs with more responsibility. Eventually I found myself as an administrator not working with clients. Bummer! It was all positive; that all worked. 

Generally speaking, after “How can I be helpful?” My second question when somebody is in that place of, “I don't know what I want, but I don't want this” is to really ask someone, “Okay, how did you get here?” To really be thoughtful about, not an elevator pitch, not what you tell someone in the seat next to on an airplane, but how did you get where you are, and which pieces were very deliberative in your decision-making, and which things kind of — you were speaking about privilege earlier — which things were sort of, you did them because you were supposed to do them next, but they weren't necessarily part of your process of making meaning out of your life and your career. That would be my starting point, is to really look at the career path, career trauma that has happened because all of us have had that, some horrible supervisor or everybody gets laid off. 

Man, the pandemic caused trauma for a whole lot of people work related. I love reading articles right now about the “Great Resignation,” as a lot of people are saying, “No, it's not worth it.” Now that I've seen what life is like in a different way, not going back. Whatever that process was will tell both of us a great deal about your story and your themes up to this point, and how you got to the place where you made the proactive decision to go find help. Listen to a podcast, have a session with a career counselor. 

Even talking to family and friends about it because once you start to talk about your story with family and friends, they'll tell you from their perspective what your story is. You can decide which pieces fit for you and which don't. Like if you were writing a novel, you need to do all of that background research and figure out all of your characters. Every hero has a backstory. What is your backstory? Where do you want to, sort of as a starting point, moving forward from here?

Rewrite Your Story

Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow, gosh! This is so good and so helpful. I'm so glad that we're talking about this because it's so authentic. You have to get radically honest — but I tell you because I've actually done some of — not related to career specifically so much, but I've done things in my life that I've regretted and felt bad about afterwards. I think that kind of work that you're talking about that, “What was my motivation at the time? What were my intentions?” 

There's also so much, I think, self-compassion that can come out of that because when you really go back and put yourself as that person in the past, and just making the best decisions you could at the time, it's a very healing process I think in some ways. I think people can release a lot of the shame and the regret because hindsight is always that 20/20. With so many things in life, it's okay to say, “I'm a different person now five years ago when I moved to Delaware, or took this job, or started this relationship. Like this is what made sense. When I think about how I got to this place, it makes sense to me. But I also know that I don't want to stay here.” That's that empowering piece.

Lisa Severy: Hopefully building in a sense of hope around various pieces because I really think — you used a great word earlier that I hear often, and that's stuck. What is it that is the stuck part? Is it not wanting to — I don't have a resume that I've done in the last 30 years, and I really don't want to do that. Or is it again, the financial piece that you're stuck? Is it benefits? Why? Why are you stuck? Do you not want to tell someone that maybe you have a position that's prestigious? You want to do something totally different? Some of the career fields that people go into and leave the most are things like dentistry and law. Those require a huge amount of school and investment of tuition money, and time and all of those pieces that somebody's like, “I can't leave that now. I've invested too much of it.” 

There's this Economics 101 of diminishing returns. But do you see yourself doing this until the day you finally get to retire because you really don't like what you're doing? Or is it time to, “Okay, but don't wait another five years. I'll change eventually.” That's the other one. You've earned it, in other words, you've earned the chance to change. I think about the fact that historically, our — well, maybe in the last 100 years — that the trajectory has been very much, “You go to school for however long that period of time is. Then, you work for however long that period of time. Then, you retire and you have a period of leisure.” That's not the way we exist anymore. 

Students take a gap year before they go to college, or maybe after college. Before they start work, they go back to school after years of being in one career. Maybe they want to advance. Maybe they want to change fields entirely — whatever. Same thing. Maybe you take a year off to do that. Now, we're doing, I think, more, which is very fun — fun to work with folks who are willing to, “Well, let's shake that up!” That very linear kind of timeline of school, work, leisure. What if we mix that all up and took leisure when we were healthy, and could travel the world? All of those sorts of questions, and a sense as exactly as you were talking about — giving ourselves — we'll do it for friends — but giving ourselves permission to let go of some of those “shoulds.”

“I've reached here, how could I possibly leave?” Whatever the case may be. And it does, it happens in relationships — relationships with people, relationships with work. It's very similar. How do you sort out what's working and what's not? As you said, give yourself permission to make a dramatic change. You can do that in a very calculated way so it’s not as risky as it feels. Baby steps are okay too. Some people just want to leap, and that's fine as well. But working through those pieces so that there's a comfort level in change, not just a comfort level in stuckness.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Right. I'm just sitting here thinking about the — going back to that idea that we first started talking about the narrative, about the story. Until you are able to change that internal story that you're telling yourself, you can't change the external circumstances — that plotline. It's like doing that internal work around the “shoulds,” and the, “Do I actually have to do what I've been taught I should do? No! I don't,” being able to write new mythologies, so to speak, like the world according to me.

Lisa Severy: I just love all of these superhero movies in the last 20 years or so. As they said, they all have this origin story. Clark Kent, who's working in journalism — doing very well at that, and all of those things working — “Okay, so now I'm going to go save the world.” Okay! Maybe you're going to miss a deadline here or there with your story. Obviously, not everybody is going to develop superpowers.

Lisa Marie Bobby: I was thinking that he probably would have taken an aptitude test, pointed him in the — I mean, he can fly and throw cars. That's fairly specific. You have to wear the tights, and the underpants on the outside if you have that thing.

Lisa Severy: I can't think of that showing up on any norm referenced test though. Very first question on some of those like, “Would you like to be a dentist, or no?” And it just goes through career by career, by career. I don't know that superheroes are on it — but it should be. It absolutely should be. Because how can you contribute to the world? 

Lisa Marie Bobby: I think we all have a superpower.

Lisa Severy: I think so too. Absolutely, I do! So, discovering what that is. A lot of people who come into counseling or coaching with career, they do know. They do know what their superpowers are. Some don't. That's a fun process of discovery. Often, they do. What's interesting to me is half the time, they're not doing any work related to it. That's like a side kind of occupation, if you will. Talk about integrating those things. It's wonderful if you have your act together, and you can do that at 18. I don't know many people who do or did.

Lisa Marie Bobby: I couldn’t. I could barely be a waitress. Like I wasn't even a good waitress — forget stuff, sell things on people. Can we just go back briefly to a thing that you started to mention a couple of minutes ago when we were talking? You are mentioning this sort of new movement in the world, which I think is fantastic. People feeling empowered to leave their jobs. I was kind of curious to know, what you make of this? I mean, I think you just alluded to it. As people were sort of more in their actual lives maybe, and less in this inhabiting a work world all the time, they were like, “Wait a minute, I like my life. I want to do more of that.” Do you think that's what it's about, or is there something else going on?

Lisa Severy: That's a really good question. I think there's a mixture of a lot of different things. I think a lot of people reached a realization where they said, “You know, this isn't worth it.” Whatever they're having to give up — whether it's safety, or safety of family and friends, kids, parents — that whole piece, and really thinking about the fact that we all have time, treasure and talent that we bring to the world. A lot of people feel like, for the first time, they're having that realization, “I don't think that people I'm working for right now value that in the slightest. They don't value my health. They don't value my well-being, what's happening in my life.” 

As more and more news stories get written about how employers can't hire — I'm going to go find someone who can. On one hand, it's not particularly great for a lot of employers, especially small businesses, and they're struggling. At the same time, I do feel like there's this sense of empowerment. There's so much going on with the world that you as an employer have to show me that this endeavor is worth it which is a very different sense of — I think in the past, people have just felt like, their employer — they owe something to their employer as if they've given them some gift of a job. 

There's just been this fundamental shift in terms of the way that people think about things of, “No, I bring this to you. In return, you give me a salary and benefits.” And really thinking about that equation, and am I on the positive side of that equation? A lot of people are coming to the, “No, I don't think so. I feel like I'm getting used.” So, bye! Again, it’s great, especially if you don't have something else to go to. That to me, I have a lot of admiration for that.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Take this job and shove it. But I love this, and this is so interesting because like there's this emotional component. It's almost like people have been trying to have almost a one-sided relationship, and coming to the conclusion, “These people don't care about me. They don't have empathy for me. They don't value me. I'm going to find somebody who does.” 


Lisa Severy: I think the flip side of employers is also customers. That's been a challenge as well. Certain industries — like talk to a flight attendant right now about how abused they are. It's not always just employers, and I get that. You could have phenomenal people to work for. Again, if you don't find any meaning and purpose in working in a career that you're in, and knowing that there are options out there now, especially in things like customer service, that people are saying, “Okay, I'm going to go find something else.” I think it's great. It's scary, but it's great.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah! Well, I think — and changing the system truly, like with our — back 100 years ago, there were unions, and people unionized, and they changed the big systems. Now, we're sort of still doing it collectively, but just in a different way. I’m so curious to see what happens.

Lisa Severy: Me too. I mean, we've worked for so long to try through legilation and things — to change the minimum wage. Now supply and demand is — okay, nobody will work for minimum wage where I am in the world. It's not necessarily everywhere. That's driven it up. So it's interesting — you're right — to see how those dynamics are going to play out, that circumstance. The world went upside down for sure. Back to normal, it's not something I even talk about because, “No, no! We want to go forward to normal, and really create something new and just full circle.” I think that's what's so fun about working with narrative career things is that you're really writing it and creating it. It's not like you're going to take somebody else's script, and start reading off of that one. 

Maybe that's how you've always felt. Let's start from here. I can help you as an editor, consultant, advisor, write the next chapter of what your life looks like. But it's you. You're the one that's going to do it, and take ownership of it. You really should never let, in any circumstance, nobody else should write your story. You should write it yourself, and you have lots of people to support and help you do that. I love working with clients who are doing that. Front and center; you are the author of your own story.

Starting a New Chapter

Lisa Marie Bobby: I'm just sitting here thinking about how important it is to do that work. Maybe this is not an accurate parallel, but when you were talking about people jumping ship to try something better — because you're a career person, and I am a relationship person, American Family Therapist. 

It's really common for people to feel those feelings in a relationship. They feel unhappy. They feel uncared for. “I'm not compatible.” “There's somebody better for me,” so they abandon ship. They ended. They jump out of the plane, and they parachute down. Sometimes, I see this a lot. My relationship work — there's almost this reflexive reaction. It's like wanting to get away from an unhappy situation that they don't know how to fix. But with people in relationships, they end their relationship, they think, “Problem solved.” Because of that, they don't always do their own personal growth work in that kind of time in between, so it's very easy to hop into a new relationship with a different person — but you're still the same you. You have your baggage, your patterns, your ways of relating and communicating, and attachment styles, and dealing with conflict, and all the things that you might not always consciously be aware of. 

What you often see is that people will, over time, start to just almost energetically elicit the same kinds of reactions from their new partners that their old partners are having to them, and the relationship starts to feel familiar in not a great way. I'm wondering if there's ever that — do you see that with your career coaching clients, like leaving a job because there are new opportunities available, and so they kind of jump into the next one without really thinking about it or doing that deep work that you're describing that, “Okay. What happened? How did I get here? What do I want next? What do I want to do differently next time?” Do you find them sort of vulnerable to recreating the same patterns if they're not fully self-aware before they make an actual change, or is it different?

Lisa Severy: No, I think absolutely. I think you're right. I think pattern is the right word to use, which is really funny because, again, it's easy to see in other people but really difficult to see in yourself like, “Well, I'm just attracted to the bad boy.” Hold on a second! The one consistent in all of your relationships has been you. I think because we are naturally sort of comfort seekers, so we'll seek out a similar environment to what we had before. If I'm trying to get away from a supervisor that is not supportive or whatever, but then I get into a new supervisory relationship. Somehow, I set the same patterns and end up with a similar thing. Am I just unlucky, and I've always had bad supervisors, or do I need to be more thoughtful about how I establish a relationship with a supervisor? How I nurture a relationship with a supervisor? Maybe doing things I've never thought to do before — like finding an external mentor who can help me process some of the things that I used to unload on a supervisor. 

Just unpacking all of those stories and again, seeing what patterns are repeating that maybe I don't want to include moving forward. “I really want to do that in a new way.” I absolutely think the relationship parallels are there because we talk about work as if it's this inanimate object, but really, it's a series of people doing a series of tasks. It's not all that different. It is funny the things that repeat like, “I stayed in for the children.” That can certainly describe a marriage or a job you don't really like that has great benefits and a great salary, those things. 

I think that pieces are relatable, which again, you described it as holistic earlier. I completely agree because, as I said, if you're in a bad work situation, it’s going to impact your relationships elsewhere and all of those pieces. How do you kind of unpack — I mean, in the counseling textbooks, we talked about it — the locus of control, right? I don't want to feel lucky when things go well, and unlucky when things don't go well. You have to take more ownership and more power than that. How do I make things go well, or how do I set myself up to be in a situation that things are more likely to go well? Because obviously, we can't control everything. But how we respond to the things that are happening to us is everything. It’s the difference between being satisfied and successful at work, versus just sort of sailing along. It’s how much ownership and control, so that we're not — to extend that metaphor — drifting all over the place, but rowing in a particular direction. 

I do just meet a lot of people that I think, “Of course you can decide that.” Whatever the question is, or if somebody says, “Well, I can't do this.” Who told you that? Like those types of questions that really, oftentimes, that's what I love about the coaching aspect. You have these skills, get in the game and use them, which sometimes again, people just need that a little bit of extra external validation to go do. Maybe they have a few tools that aren't quite there yet, so we need to work on those. Once you can get them together — but you do have to have your own sense of agency that you can write the next chapter, and you can do these things. You don't have to wait for that lucky break.

Lisa Marie Bobby: To be the author of your own story, and write your next chapter where you're the hero, and you do have superpowers, and you can actually do anything you want.

Lisa Severy: Absolutely. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: I love it. What a nice and empowering note for us to end on. Is there anything else that you'd like to share with our listeners who might be feeling like they're on the cusp of a new chapter and ready to go? Actually, let me ask you more directly. If I were to ask you to tell us a story, maybe about somebody that you worked with who did this work and did go on that amazing hero's journey, and did start writing their own story — of course not identifying details or anything — but what have you seen happen?

Lisa Severy: That's a really — that's a good question. That, to me, is the reward of the work as well. I do remember, I was working with a group of people, and we were using collages. Back to kindergarten, we're going to cut stuff out of a magazine, and there's a lot of pieces that really fit the narrative piece in that. Sometimes, what happens if you are to just flat out ask people, “okay, so tell me what are your life themes?” It’s very difficult.

Lisa Marie Bobby: I don’t know.

Lisa Severy: “I don't know.” But again, if you ask them, “Okay, what sort of magazines do you read?” Or watching people as they go through a magazine. Some people pull out words to use that are very meaningful to them. Some people pull up pictures. It's just this process, and you don't have to think about it very much, which is great. I was watching somebody, and they laid out all these beautiful pictures of things that they liked and used very empowering words, which are great, out of magazines, and all of those pieces. There was this giant white space in the middle. We went around in the group, and people were sharing various aspects of their collages, and other people were giving them feedback. 

Then, he kept deferring — like, no, no. Somebody else should go. Finally, like, “Okay, your last. That’s it, you have to share.” So, he described the whole thing, and then held it up, and he was like, “But I don't know what goes here.” Then, there was this giant pause, and he said, “I don't know what goes here. I need to figure out what goes here.” There was just this — nobody even said a thing. He realized that he may have a lot of, “These are the things I kind of want, but what is my essential sort of totally ‘blank’ slate.” And that was very scary to think about a blank slate, but also incredibly empowering for him to start to do the work, “I need to figure out what's right here.” And I thought, “Couldn't have said it better myself.” It was great.

It was, as I said, everything that you described was in his own language, in his own words, using his own pictures. None of that came from me, which I think is sometimes the danger of, “Well, you're very articulate. I think you should do this.” No,no. It all should come from him. Just in talking about it, that he was the one that had that realization of the work that he needed to do. It was a great launching place then for the rest of the work of the group. It was really fun. I thought, “I hope you put this on your fridge and you look at it every morning so that you know what you're doing, and you know what you're working on.” That right now is enough. To know that you don't know is enough right now, and we'll work on it from there.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Do you know how that story ended, or was it a group that maybe he kept doing his own work after that’s ended? 

Lisa Severy: That is sort of the, sometimes, the drawback. I mean, we did work on figuring out what that essential piece was, and got a lot of work done in that area. Last one, the group ended, he was still in the same position — just trying to figure out sort of what to do next.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Well, what a gift though that he got from his work with you, it was just that realization of I don't have a central theme. I don't have a meaningful anchor in the middle of my life to kind of hold all this stuff together. Just how cool that you were able to help him connect those dots experientially without somebody telling him that when he was like, “Wait a minute!” Everyone within the sound of our voices, get yourself a glue stick and start ripping up some magazines, and see what happens next.

Lisa Severy: Absolutely. It's a little bit harder to do online, but those types of activities where we can because so much of career stuff is in our brains. A lot of us overthink a lot of things. Sometimes, you need to stop thinking about something. It's like trying to think of a name. You can think of it as soon as you stop trying to think. Some of those types of exercises are when I'm asking people to tell me a story about their early childhood like, “What's the earliest thing you can remember?” You're not overthinking, “Should I take a manager or director position at that point.” You're way in a different space, and that allows for that creativity to come out.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow, that's yeah, people get trapped by their own minds, don't they?

Lisa Severy: Absolutely. And I do it all the time. 

Lisa Marie Bobby: As I do, routinely — the human condition. Well, Dr. Lisa, this was such an amazing conversation. Thank you, on behalf of our listeners today, because I know that a lot of people listening to this got not just inspiring ideas, but also some actionable advice for things to start thinking about and asking themselves about. On behalf of them, thank you so much for being so generous and sharing that with us.

I would love to have you back on the show again sometime because one thing I didn't get to ask you more about — we ran out of time — you had talked about toxic or traumatic work experiences. We're going to plant a flag in that, and I'd like you to come back and talk to me about that again.

Lisa Severy: Yep, absolutely. That'd be great. Thank you for your time today. This is great.

Lisa Marie Bobby: This was wonderful. I'll see you soon. 
Lisa Severy: Thank you.

[Outro song: Wet Leg, “Chaise Longue”]

Music in this episode is by Wet Leg, with their song Chaise Longue.

You can support them and their work by visiting their Bandcamp page here: https://wetleg.bandcamp.com/ Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.

Do What You Love

Do What You Love

Do What You Love

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Brick Fields, “Gotta Sing Your Song”

How To Do What You Love

So many of our life coaching and career coaching clients come to us because they feel stuck.

Sometimes they're stuck in paralysis, not knowing which career move to make. Some (many, actually) of our clients feel stuck in a career that they don't really enjoy, but that is stable and fairly well-paying. They know it’s time for a career change, but they don't know how to pivot in their career without creating chaos in their lives.

Still, other career coaching clients are feeling stuck in work-related circumstances, like a toxic work environment, or in difficult relationships with co-workers. They don't necessarily want to quit their jobs, but they know something needs to change. 

How to Find Your Career Passion

Can you relate? Feeling stuck in your career can be frustrating, stressful, and even paralyzing. Finding clarity and direction about your next move allows you to move forward fearlessly and find your career passion. 

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I'm speaking with Teena, a career development coach.

She and I met over tea to talk about the questions to ask yourself and the mindset to adopt when you’re ready to get unstuck, find your passion, and create a career that's in alignment with who you are.

Every “Mistake” Is a Step Closer to Finding Your Passion

So often, people fear making a “mistake” in their careers. Teena and I discussed how this type of Success-or-Failure thinking creates additional stress and pressure on your career decisions and contributes to a feeling of career paralysis. 

You can — and should — learn as much as possible about a job or a career that interests you before you ever work a day in the field. But eventually, you’ll have to dive in and see what that career feels like, and it’s entirely possible that you’ll discover it’s not quite right for you. 

That doesn’t mean you’re tethered to a bad-fit career until retirement, or that your time, energy, or education were all a big waste. It means you’ve learned something about what you enjoy, what you value, and what you’re good at, and now you can use that insight to bring yourself closer to finding your passion. 

Listen for some great perspective to help you find valuable, meaningful life and work-related experience in all of your efforts, so you can avoid falling into a failure mindset and cultivate a growth mindset instead.

Find Your Passion

Many people reach out for career coaching when they're just starting out in their careers. Perhaps they've just graduated from college and are figuring out what to do with their degree… or finding that their true interest is not what they went to school for. 

No one teaches you how to find your passion, so it makes sense that many of us need a little help. 

We're sharing some excellent advice for helping people who are just getting started in their careers get clear about who they are, and about what type of career will be meaningful and enjoyable… as well as lucrative.

How to Love Your Work Again

So often, working professionals launch careers that they develop for years, only to find out that what they're doing for a living is not truly congruent with who they are. 

Sometimes, people start careers out of what's available, or what's stable, or what's expected of them, rather than through a thoughtful self-discovery process. Over the years, as they become more aware of who they are and what they're really about, shifting their careers to match their true selves becomes an important part of their personal growth.

We have great advice to help you consider who you are at the most fundamental level, and how to use self-awareness as the key tool to finding work you love, or to learning to love your work again. 

How to Do What You Love and Never Stop Growing

Your career story doesn’t end happily ever after once you land on the job that’s right for you. Professional development is an ongoing process of personal growth, and Teena and I discussed how that growth work happens. 

As your position of responsibility grows, it becomes necessary to step up your game on every level. Learning how to be more productive and organized, understanding the impact of emotional intelligence and working to raise your own emotional intelligence, creating positive coworker relationships (even with difficult colleagues), figuring out how to get ahead at work, and learning how to lead are all part of the ongoing personal growth process that doing what you love requires. 

We offer some great tips for continuing to develop yourself both personally and professionally so that you can tap your potential to the fullest as your life and career evolve.

Love Your Work — And Your Life

While we do spend a lot of time in our professional roles, a truly meaningful and satisfying career needs to fit in with your entire life. Teena shares her perspective around how to create a healthy work-life balance, how to balance your career and your relationships, and how to keep your professional success in perspective as just one aspect of your entire life.

We talk about some of the stress management skills and boundary-setting skills that she helps her career coaching and life coaching clients build, so they can stay in a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally — even when they have a lot going on.

Ready to Do What You Love?

Ready to find your career passion?

Pour yourself your own cup of tea and join a conversation about creating a career that is in alignment with your authentic self, breaking through career-related paralysis, and managing the anxiety that starts to bubble up around making big career changes.

Have you submitted a career-related question for the podcast lately? We're answering listener career questions, so be sure to listen for yours!

Your partner in growth,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Do What You Love

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Brick Fields, “Gotta Sing Your Song”

How to Deal with Stress at Work

How to Deal with Stress at Work

How to Deal with Stress at Work

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: “Train” by Starcrawler

Dealing With Stress at Work? Help Is Here!

Are you dealing with stress at work? Hey, in this era, who isn’t! Work can always be stressful, but in this particular life space many people are dealing with anxiety at work, dealing with burnout at work, and dealing with difficult situations at work that are simply next level. 

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to stay productive when working at home; dealing with conflict at work (or favoritism); coping with anxiety about needing to go back to work in person; dealing with burnout because you’re understaffed and doing the job of three people; are in a leadership position and trying to figure out how to keep your employees happy; or are evaluating whether to leave your job and carve out a new career path… help is here.

In this episode, I’m sitting down with my dear colleague, Growing Self career coach Dr. Kristi to discuss her top tips for dealing with stress at work, how to deal with burnout, and more. Together, we’re exploring a variety of different career-related stressors you might be facing, and how to deal with all of them. 

She shared so much helpful information during this episode around how to stay clear and empowered in a potentially disempowering situation, how to use mindfulness and self-care to manage stress on the job, how to communicate with your team in order to advocate for yourself, and how to make choices if you’d like to make changes to your working situation. (Whether that’s leaving a job, or working to create a better workplace environment in the position you have now.)

Dr. Kristi works with career coaching clients from all walks of life: leaders and business owners, as well as working professionals, and she has advice for you too. We’re talking about how to juggle work and life, how to set healthy boundaries, and how to stay sane whether you’re working from home or online. So much good stuff!

If you're under a lot of stress, feeling stuck at work, and looking for a way to reclaim your zen, tune in to the full episode!

How to Deal with Stress at Work

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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How To Deal With Stress At Work: Podcast Episode Highlights 

Listen and Learn How To…

  • Pick up strategies for coping with work-related stress 
  • Discover how to use your bargaining power and advocate for yourself in order to feel more empowered 
  • Learn how to deal with stress at work 
  • Understand the importance of self-care for better work-life balance 
  • Know how to manage your stress levels both at work and at home
  • Avoid burnout at work
  • Grasp how career coaching can help you navigate work-related concerns

Tips For Dealing With Stress at Work 

The Stress of Working From Home 

The pandemic has brought about many changes and challenges in our everyday lives. As a career coach, Dr. Kristi has noticed some trends with parents who have to balance working remotely and parenting simultaneously. She points out that you are not alone. Many struggled to navigate through everyday life due to the pandemic. 

However, Dr. Kristi reminds us to look for silver linings in tough situations. She views these things as silver linings: 

  • More family time 
  • Taking stock of what’s important 
  • No time wasted on daily commutes 
  • Increased productivity at home 

About a year and a half into this pandemic, Dr. Kristi shares that more parents have seen more meaning in working remotely because it has paved the way for better work-life balance and more family time. 

Workplaces are slowly opening, but many people don't want to go back to their offices. Dr. Kristi points out that this uncertain time has made people reflect on their priorities and lives. 

Concerns About Work 

Dr. Kristi shares some of the concerns of her clients: 

  • Not feeling safe about going back to the office
  • Missing collaboration and teamwork in a physical working environment 

She believes that it is essential to stand up for yourself and voice out your concerns to your employer or supervisor. She says, “reach out and do some creative problem-solving.”  

If you have a leadership role in the company, listening to your employee’s concerns is crucial in making everyone feel safe and protected, especially during this pandemic. The more creative leaders get, the better everyone seems to do. 

How to Cope with Feeling Unsafe at Work 

With the virus going around, people are concerned about going back to work. They feel unsafe in places that don't strictly enforce health and safety policies. 

Dr. Kristi's advice is to find a workplace that is supportive of your personal safety. If you don’t feel supported, advocate and reach out. If it's still not working, find the best fit for you. Dr. Kristi reminds you to know the following:

  • how valuable you are
  • what you want
  • what is acceptable to you

“You are not stuck. You have choices.”, says Dr. Kristi. It can be a sign to assess your career path and explore growth opportunities. If your job isn't valuing you, it may be time to make changes — or even leave. It helps to assess your work environment to determine what to do next. Don't be afraid to advocate for your salary and negotiate! Understanding your worth is critical to getting what you need.

How to Help People Deal with Stress at Work 

If you’re a leader, you have the responsibility to help your team stay afloat through these uncertain times. Part of the balancing act is to incorporate mindfulness and other stress management techniques. Remember, calmer people make a better workplace

It can be as simple as starting a meeting with a five-minute meditation. “Doing just a little bit everyday can really help overall stress levels, so that you have more clarity, and you’re better able to handle all the unknowns,” says Dr. Kristi. 

Dr. Kristi emphasizes the importance of doing something to keep your stress levels at bay. 

Various tools and techniques can teach you how to deal with burnout at work. When it is hard to control what’s going on around us, it is helpful to focus on things we can control, which is ourselves. 

How to Deal with Change at Work

While working from home is advantageous to some, it can also be a source of stress for others. This setup blurs the lines between work and personal life, especially for parents with small children.

Moreover, extroverts find the lack of social interaction challenging. Remote work also makes it hard for people with ADHD to stay organized and focused on their own. 

There are several strategies you can employ to set yourself up for success. You can hire a part-time nanny to look after your child. It’s also helpful to schedule your day like you would at the office.

If you're struggling with making it work alone, seek assistance from your supervisor. Doing so is understandably challenging for high-functioning people. But you have to remember, “strong is asking for help.” 

How to Deal With Being Overloaded at Work

Because of COVID, more and more people have realized how short life is. Thus, they have become more empowered to leave their jobs and pursue their passions. 

While that’s great for them, it can mean bad news for their co-workers. If you have to fill in for your team, remember to set your boundaries. Nobody can consistently work for 60 hours and not get burned out or sick.

Also, realize that you now have more bargaining power compared to the past. Find the best way to approach your supervisor and communicate your concerns. 

Dealing with Burnout at Work through Self-Care

In these trying times, burnout prevention and recovery are very crucial. Increased stress levels can cause tension in relationships, affect your immune system, and make you more irritable. Now more than ever is where the importance of self-care comes in. 

Dr. Kristi shares some ways to practice self-care: 

  • Get enough quality sleep 
  • Spend time outside or in nature 
  • Take five minutes to meditate, do deep breathing, stretching, or journaling 

There is power in starting your day right through meditation: “You're starting out your day from a place of being centered and calm.” It's a way of training your brain to cope better during stressful situations. 

Taking a moment to pause and collect yourself instead of pushing yourself to run on empty can help you become more productive

Career Development Resources For You:

How to Deal With Stress at Work: Show Notes

The music featured in this episode is by the band Starcrawler, with their song “Train.” You can support them and their work by visiting their Bandcamp page here: https://starcrawler.bandcamp.com/album/starcrawler Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.

Enjoy the Podcast?

Did you enjoy the podcast? What did you learn about how to deal with stress at work? What’s your biggest work-related pain point these days? Do you feel more empowered to use your bargaining power for your welfare? Tell us by commenting on this episode!

[Intro Song: You Bring Me Home by The Sudden Leaves]

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and you're listening to The Love Happiness and Success podcast. 

[Intro Song]

On this episode of the podcast, I'm so excited to talk to my colleague Dr. Kristi who specializes in career coaching. What I love about Dr. Kristi is that it's above and beyond like, “What am I going to do with my life” kind of career coaching. That's very valid but Dr. Kristi goes deep and really helps people figure out how to navigate a lot of stressful concerns related to jobs and professional development. 

The Stress of Working From Home 

Dr. Lisa: I am so excited to talk with Dr. Kristi today about how to deal with stress at work in this particular point in time where there's so much uncertainty and potential pitfalls and just weird things to even think about thanks to pandemic life. 

Dr. Kristi, thank you so much for joining me today. You with your pretty girl hair, it's always a pleasure. Always a pleasure but thank you. 

Dr. Kristi: Oh, thank you so much for having me. Yeah, it's been just a strange, not even just a year now, it's been going on for a year and a half. Going on to two years of just insanity with COVID. I've just noticed a lot of trends so I want to just sort of talk about those today. One, so people can feel they're not alone. A lot of people are in the same boat. Also to look at ways they can help themselves during this time. 

I think at the beginning of COVID, everybody was sort of… Nobody knew what was going on and then all of a sudden, everybody's remote, right? For working parents, that presented some unique challenges. Many of us also didn’t have kids at home. I know you, me, a lot of people we know. People like you, I think it was even harder on the ones with the younger kiddos. 

My kids are teens, they are old enough that they could discipline themselves around organizing school time and things like that but my clients with preschoolers, kindergarteners, first grade, oh, that’s just such a tough age to have to be navigating working from home and trying to school your kids. It was an especially challenging year. 

I think it was almost harder that things got better and seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel and then Delta variant hit. A lot went up in the air again. Now, most of us, our kids are back in school although mine was just out again. I've gotten six notices in one week that they were around positive COVID cases.

Dr. Lisa: Really? Oh, Kristi. 

Dr. Kristi: It's not a normal school year even though they're in school. I think the vaccines obviously are helping things move in a more normal direction and I feel better about my kids being in school because they're old enough to get vaccinated, but I've had parents, again, my clients with younger kids have expressed anxiety that their children aren't old enough to get vaccinated. 

Yet, this new variant is hitting kids a little harder than the last one so it's just a lot of anxiety in general, and then now, what does work look like? I think that work has changed and I personally think we're going to see some permanent changes in what work looks like based out of this whole year and a half. I think some of it is good. I really do and I try and look for silver linings in horrid situations. 

So much about the past year and a half has been out of our control and hard but I think some silver linings were people, one, got more family time. We were all together holed up at our homes for a while there, and then, I think we also were able to take stock of what's important. I had a lot of clients tell me they really enjoyed having greater work-life balance without having a commute, especially people that had much longer commutes. They also told me they had increased productivity. 

Sometimes, again, the kid thing was a little hard when the kids were home too. But increased productivity with not being involved sort of in all the water cooler workplace chit chat, they were able to get more done in an earlier period of time. They were able to stop working and then not have the commute so they could be with their families and they really enjoyed that. Now, conversely, after a period of time, some people miss that social interaction. 

Again, it comes down to personalities. I have some people who were so overjoyed to be at home all of the time. They were fine not interacting with a bunch of other people. Whereas other people who are more social by nature and the Zoom thing just was not cutting it for them. The Zoom fatigue thing is real and they were just done and they wanted to get back in the office at least part-time. 

Now, we're at this weird place in time where some companies are saying, “Everybody back in by x date” and other places are saying, “Hybrid, you're in two days, out two days. We're staggering it because we're still following COVID guidelines, things like that.” Other companies have made pretty cool changes. A large company that I just did a stress management presentation for announced they're moving permanently to a four-day workweek because they recognized that increased productivity in people, but also, the work-life balance thing is so important to people. 

I think that companies that are doing well throughout all this are being creative because what's happening, at least what I'm seeing, is the companies were like, “Everybody's back full time starting on x date.” All of a sudden, I'm getting a lot of clients because they're like, “I'm not going back. I'm not doing that.” Because, again, they've realized throughout this pandemic that certain things are really important to them. 

Family time, work-life balance, and some taking stock of what they want out of life because unfortunately, many of us, and I know you dealt with this, have lost family members, right? We're seeing how short life is. I personally was extremely sick back at the beginning of all this. When you realize what's important in life, you're less willing, I think, to make concessions that aren't in line with who you want to be and that ideal version of yourself. 

I've had people reach out realizing through this time, they're like, “Wow, I don't love what I'm doing so why would I want to go back into an office five days a week when I either didn't love the job the begin with or I didn't necessarily love my coworkers all that much either.” 

Dr. Lisa: Right, right, and now, I'm risking my life for the pressure of being there. 

Dr. Kristi: Exactly, exactly. I think that's been nice. People are like, “I get to choose. I get to do something different.” Sometimes, even the act of enough people making that choice has shifted the employer into saying, “Oh, you know what? Okay, we'll go hybrid” because replacing employees is expensive. It takes time. It takes resources. 

Dr. Lisa: It's a new kind of collective bargaining. I don't know how organized it is but yeah, a critical mass of people are getting the attention of leadership. 

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. Yeah, for the first time, I think, in a very long time. There has been some good that's come out of it. My hope is that people can really look at themselves and what they want looking ahead, and to speak up for themselves. Because a lot of times, people might be unhappy with how their company is responding or a certain policy, and when I say, “Well, did you address that?” “Well, no.” Well, then, first, changing jobs also takes energy and time and applying for jobs and looking for things so if it's something that's potentially is fixable, try to fix it. Speak up. Advocate for yourself. 

Concerns About Work 

Dr. Lisa: What an important message right there is that I'm hearing you say you might be more empowered than you realize. I think historically we're used to kind of doing what we're told in employment situations and you're saying that this circumstance has led you to have more power than you might even realize. What are some of the kinds of things that people listening or the career coaching clients that you've been working with are experiencing as stressful that you've been encouraging them to say, “Can this be different at my job?” What are some of the typical things you're hearing? 

Dr. Kristi: Well, number one is complaints about going back into the office, not feeling safe. That's number one. In those cases, encouraging them to reach out and advocate their manager, their team, because a lot of times, they're not alone and that's where that collective bargaining power comes in. Other times, it's that missing the dynamic. A lot of work environments, even if they don't want to be back full time, they miss that collaboration and teamwork that you don't necessarily get that same thing on Zoom. 

Even if you're having Zoom meetings, which is great to a point, you're still missing sometimes the magic that happens when you're all together in a room talking. I've had clients explain it to me the way they would explain it to their supervisor, and then, again, reach out. Do some creative problem solving and sometimes, it's actually during this pandemic before going back in the office, it's actually even having virtual events that aren't necessarily work-based. 

I've had more people come to me and they are in leadership positions who are my clients. They're like, “How do I get my team to feel good and engaged through all this?” Some of my leadership clients who are executives are doing just more fun online things. Ice-breaking games, fun things such as getting them bonded, and then, engaging in more creative activities. Then, looking at bringing them in one day a week for a joint meeting where they can do some of that dynamic collaboration type activity. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, just a totally different way. Listening to what people are saying and “How can we fill their cup and meet these needs” but do it in a totally different way, not just baked into the daily experience anymore and how can people ask for that even if you don't know exactly what the answer is. Because at the end of the day, and I love that you work with so many leaders and I think every leader listening to this podcast will understand that at the end of the day, it's your problem to figure out the how. You know what I mean? That it's their responsibility, I think, of working people to say, “Here's what I want. Here's what would help this feel better for me.” 

Dr. Kristi: For the leaders, that creativity piece, right? Because creative problem-solving right now, that's made the difference, again, with companies I've seen that have done really well and handled this versus not. I work with some leaders who, their organizations are client-facing jobs so it's this weird balance of meeting the needs of the people they serve, the community they serve with their staff who also need to feel safe and protected. It's an interesting balancing act right now for leaders. The more creative I've seen they get with how they address things and problem-solving, the better everybody seems to do. 

How to Cope with Feeling Unsafe at Work 

Dr. Lisa: Definitely. I'm glad we're talking about that but if I may ask, I know that you work with a spectrum of different clients, many leaders. I know that you work with a lot of medical professionals. Honestly, I know you have a lot of physicians that you see. That's probably a different animal. I'm curious to know, what advice or recommendations you would have for someone who might feel unsafe at their job or that they aren't being protected or supported and how to cope with that kind of stress

Specifically, I'm thinking of, and this isn't even a client, Kristi. This is my sister but I know that a lot of people are in the same boat, I'll tell you. She's a high school art teacher and when she started the school year, it was at a school district that was not requiring masks, and she, with what we've been through with our mom, everything that we can, especially also having unvaccinated children at home and breakthrough cases and all that. 

With her first day back to school, she asked students to put on a mask in her classroom. Not only did the students say now, she got in trouble with the administration for asking and she felt very unsafe and unsupported and it's led her to do some soul searching. I don't know exactly what's going to happen there with her career path but I'm wondering in general, you must have clients who are in similar situations where it feels like they cannot protect themselves and maintain employment. 

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely, and that, the teacher thing just breaks my heart because that's going on in our district too, unfortunately. They're out there, basically, they signed up to teach, not to put their lives on the line. It just seems like a basic respect. At our school, there was at least support from administration so there are, and I know this from my kids who are in there, that there are teachers who have said, “You must wear a mask in my class.” The administration has supported that and actually sent an email out saying, “If your child refuses to wear masks, they will be dismissed.” 

This goes back to the leadership piece. I really hope that more leaders step up to do their part in ending this. Now, if you have an administration, that sounds like your sister did the right thing. She spoke up. She advocated for herself and she got in trouble. In that kind of case, I would absolutely recommend there are districts and it's hard because if you love your district, but then, you have to do that inward soul searching of, “Do I find somewhere else?” 

We have had teachers go to other districts for various reasons due to district-wide policies that it's always an option to look at a different district. If you love teaching, I would say, if that's your passion, absolutely. Yes, you could look for a different career but if it's your passion, try to find somewhere that is supportive of your personal safety. It's sad that there are administrations that aren't supportive of that.

Dr. Lisa: I love what you're saying though, that you're articulating this reminder to know your worth and know that you have so many options and particularly in this kind of climate where many employers are very eager to find and retain and keep happy, talented, great help. That you're a catch and you may have other options, If one place doesn't feel good for you, you find the one that does because you don't have to. 

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. And I will tell you, again, just from all my clients are career clients in one capacity or another and so many of them have gotten jobs in the last, I would say, a month or so. I have gotten more emails the past month because I work with them on that. If you're not supported, obviously, advocate, reach out, do what you can, but if it's not working, doesn't feel like a fit, oh my gosh, so many places are hiring right now. 

Right now, one of my clients, last week alone, he got three job offers and needed to have a session with me to help walk him through which one, which is an amazing problem to have. Another one of my clients, a physician, same thing. She got offers from three different hospitals. It was helping her navigate which was the best fit. Absolutely know your worth, know your value, know what you want and what's acceptable to you, and if you're in a place that absolutely is refusing to support that, you are not stuck. You have choices. 

Even my son, he's 17. He's been at his same first job for eight months and decided there were things that he did not feel were supportive of him. I said, “Go interview. Everybody's hiring right now. Literally go interview.” He didn't even want my help with his resume. I'm like, “Literally, that's what I do for a living, but okay.” He applied to three jobs. The next day, got two calls, interviewed the next day, and was offered a job on the spot and he's 17. Everywhere is hiring right now. Yeah, it's absolutely in your power to do something if you are not happy. 

Dr. Lisa: I'm so glad we're talking about this and I had another question. I'll ask you that in just a second. Now, I have to circle back around. Just for the benefit of our audience here, say that we have somebody listening who is being showered with job offers because they are amazing and they have so many great opportunities. Do you have a couple of the sort of go-to ideas that you will assist your career coaching clients with in trying to evaluate different positions and which one to take if you have a lot of great opportunities? 

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, so it's hard because everybody's different. A lot of the work I do with people is identifying their personality, their value system. I do a lot of work with people on values and what drives them. A lot of times, you can have a similar job but the mission of the company might be different, or the specific field or way in which you would be using your skill set might be a little different, could be the area. 

Yeah, working with people to make sure whatever choice they make is in line with who they are and their values rather than external factors like parents saying, “You should take that one. It's more money.” Well-meaning family members. But at the end of the day, you are living your life and so you want to make the decision that it's best for yourself so I help people with that. 

Dr. Lisa: Oh, that's good because it's difficult, I think, to look at just hard metrics. What you're saying is even a couple thousand dollars difference in salary, which you could negotiate, is at the end of the day, so much less important to well-being, and health, and happiness, and reduced stress, and more job satisfaction, and a good fit with your personality, and the company culture. 

The meaning that you get from the work and how it sort of creates this whole life experience as opposed to just, “Well, this one has this kind of health insurance and so I'm going to do that.” That can be exactly understandable. All that matters but, I don't want to say short-sighted, but that's the word that's coming to mind. It has to go deeper. 

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, I have them look at it holistically. Negotiating salary, that was something I just had multiple people do. Not to be stereotypical, but I do think I've seen this enough that I think it's true. Women seem to have a harder time advocating for their salary and negotiating salary than men. It's like, “Okay that's what you offer me? Well, okay.” Whereas my male clients are more like, “No, I'm not going to take that.” I'm like, “Okay.” Working with people on how do you go back, so you love the job but you are wanting a higher salary. 

I just helped a woman do this who had never negotiated a salary in her life. We had the next session and she was shocked. She said “They did. They raised the offer” and I was like, “See? Because you're worth it.” I wish women understood their worth as much as men often do. Again, that's not always the case but more often, I think women are not as comfortable advocating for themselves that way. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, that's such a great reminder. I know I would struggle with that too. I don't know. It's a hard one. What we're talking about right now, just, I think, reminding everyone of the power of their worth, the number of opportunities and choices that they have, I think that those ideas in themselves reduce stress so much because it's like, “Oh yeah, I don't have to do anything. I have lots of choices.” 

Advice to Deal With Stress at Work 

Dr. Lisa: I'm wondering too if we could talk a little bit about people for whom for a variety of reasons, they are happy enough with their role, their job, they're not making big plans to stay, or maybe trying to find something different is harder than just dealing with the mixed bag of the current situation because nowhere is perfect, but there are other stressful situations that people are facing. 

I know when we were kind of corresponding, you mentioned a unique kind of stress that's coming up where it seems like people in a team are maybe getting different privileges around staying home or having to come in. It's a different facet of office politics. There's a resentment. Can you say a little? I don't know if I'm articulating that well but there are new wrinkles in working relationships these days. 

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely, because with the hybrid model, a lot of employers I think are implementing in more corporate-type jobs with the two days in, two days out, or however they work it. But some places, if people are resistant to coming back in, some of the conflict that's come up is resentment by the in-person workers against the at-home workers, right? They're like, “Well, are they really doing all the work that we're doing? Because we're here and showing up every day and we don't see them.” 

I think there's, again, it's been more of my work with leaders and leadership-type roles where they've described this to me. Part of the work leaders have had a challenge is bringing them together in virtual meetings but also making sure that the work is known. Because it's easy when you're remote that you're doing your thing and working and they are really productive but the in-person team doesn't necessarily know that. It's how you relay that, but then, also, how do you make it feel safe enough? At what time do you then implement people coming back into the office? 

They can't stay home forever by logistics of the job itself. Then, it's been navigating gently, bringing these people back in, and changing those expectations as vaccines have rolled out. Because now, everybody can be vaccinated for the most part. There's obviously some high-risk cases, immunocompromised people, that kind of thing but for the most part, vaccines are widely available, widely effective. That has changed things again. Before, it was certain people it was understandable they didn't want to be in the office because it wasn't safe. Well now, it is much safer, not that you can't have a breakthrough case but they're finding it’s often, if you're vaccinated, not life-threatening. 

Then, it's a challenge of bringing resistant people back into the office, mending some of those feelings of resentment that they've been home longer than everyone else kind of thing. I think that's, again, a challenge that leaders have right now and it's where they've had to be creative. Again, it's where I've walked them through by doing some different activities than maybe they used to do, changing up team meetings in a slightly different way where everyone does a little check-in reports on what they've been working on that week. Again, everybody knows what everybody else is doing. 

There are all kinds of ways until we're all sort of either back. Some places are staying hybrid, which is, I think, great, but everyone's expected to come in at least two of those days or however it works. I think once we get to that point, it's going to take this balancing act basically by managers, directors, leaders, on how to make everybody sort of feel included and decrease that potential for conflict along with just the other thing I'm hearing: overall stress management techniques. It's a stressful time for everybody, whether you're in the office, out of the office, hybrid. 

Dr. Kristi: I've noticed an uptick in people in leadership positions bringing in mindfulness and stress management techniques to the regular team meetings which I love because I teach that to my clients anyway and it's so needed right now. It's just such a stressful time in general. I love that they're incorporating that. Just one of my clients told me they introduce their team meeting and started with a five-minute meditation. That's amazing. That's what we need right now. Everybody's up here with their cortisol levels and that's when you get sick, is when everybody's stress hormones are at a high level so even incorporating more… 

I had a huge national corporation bring me in for virtual stress management training and as a corporation, I would not have thought would necessarily, I don't know again my own thing, necessarily bring in mindfulness training and they wanted that. That was for several hundred people and they loved it and they said they'd been needing those type things just to manage day-to-day stress. I think people also underestimate the power of five minutes of stretching a day or meditation or just even deep breathing, five minutes of yoga. 

Doing just a little bit every day can really just help overall stress levels so that you have more clarity and you're better able to handle all the unknowns. There's so many uncertainties still right now. We don't know for sure what this next year is going to look like. There's new variations coming out every day it feels like, right? All we can have control over is us, not the world around us as much as we wish we could. By taking control of ourselves and engaging in a daily practice of stress management, and again, that can be anything. 

Some of my guys kickbox, that's their mindfulness. I have people who go run, people who rock climb, or whatever your thing is. Just something consistently that keeps your stress levels down during this time because that also boosts, besides your natural antidepressants, your serotonin. All the feel-good: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, all those feel-good chemicals in your body. That also then increases your immune system so that with all these things going around, you're more likely to be able to handle it without getting super sick. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, definitely but what a great reminder though. It's like there are sort of these all these different spheres and things available to you to deal with stress at work but starting with yourself, taking a look at your personal daily routines, a mindfulness practice, maybe some thought-shifting. I love what you said is like finding ways of taking control, really over your inner experience. I know for me personally, I get stressed out when I feel I'm not managing my time well and when I don't have enough time to do important things and I'm doing all these other things instead. 

It sounds so dorky but my biggest stress management tool is making my list, making my plans, those kinds of… Yeah, it's so powerful. What I love is just this reminder to people that in addition to your personal kind of stress management practices if it's physical or if it's mental, there is opportunity right now to ask for that to be supported by your leadership in your workplace

Say, “Hello, Mr. person or Ms. person, let's have a Dr. Kristi come in and teach us some mindfulness techniques that we can use on the job” or “What are we doing to support mental and emotional and physical wellness in our group right now? Because I need that” and to have that be heard and respected.

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely, and then, that makes for a better workplace because people are calmer. They're not as stressed. It's a win-win for everybody. 

How to Deal with Change at Work

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Oh, that's such a good reminder. Are there other pain points that you've heard your clients describe lately about just areas of stress at work that are kind of unique to this modern experience that we're having that we should address? For example, and this is one thing that came to my mind, many advantages to working at home, cutting out the commute, potentially more time with your family. 

There are some people who experience working at home as being more stressful in some ways because there's this smooshing together of work and life in a way that isn't actually good. Whereas you had this boundary and a different space when we went to work. For some people, it's time management and productivity stuff. Has that come up for your clients? 

Dr. Kristi: Oh yeah, absolutely, especially with small kids in the home, right? I've had clients, again, have to get creative. If both parents are working from home, they've made actual schedules where they trade out. Someone has a meeting, the other one is doing. Some of them have even brought in a part-time nanny into the home so that they're able to do the meetings they need to do but they've gotten creative with putting a sign on the door like a stop sign that their three-year-old knows means daddy's in a meeting or mommy's in a meeting, that kind of thing and but also for them, for the clients. 

They told me they've had to look at that too because they say it's too easy to go out and want to go play with their little one or go read a book or go out to lunch. Again, it's something that you encourage how do you set boundaries around that. If you take lunch anyway, sure, go have lunch with your little one or however that is set up and then you go back into your office as though it's your workplace until your ending time whatever that is. That has been a challenge for sure because for some people with little kids, I think everything about this year and a half has been more stressful. 

I also have clients who don't have kids and it's stressful because they're either super extroverted and social people and it is really driving them nuts now because they've been home for so long or some of my clients have some ADHD tendencies. Staying organized and focused on their own is super challenging if they don't have someone there saying, “Okay, you need to do this, this, and this” or at least other co-workers that are also working, and then it keeps them engaged and focused. 

Some of my clients with some of those attention wandering or they get distracted, then it's working with them individually on creating some techniques to help them stay focused and engaged in the workday, but part of that also has been reaching out and saying, “Hey, I need a little bit extra help” from their manager, supervisor. In fact, one I had earlier today finally reached out. Super brilliant person in a brilliant line of work and I think sometimes, when people are super high functioning, it can be harder to ask for help because they feel they shouldn't need it because they're so smart when really, we all need help at different times. 

Encourage them to ask for this thing that would help them stay a little more on track during the workday and their manager said, “Sure, we'll start tomorrow” and started doing it. It really is going to be really beneficial for this person but it took them… He's also male, which sometimes, males have a little bit harder time asking for help and have shared that with me, that they feel like, “Well, I should be strong.” I'm like, “Strong is asking for help.” 

Dr. Lisa: “What does that mean?” 

Dr. Kristi: Exactly. He was like, “Oh my gosh, it totally worked.” I'm like, “Yes, it did and now, you can keep doing that.” That kind of thing, I think there are challenges based on certain personalities that working at home is harder and that's okay. It's working with that to set yourself up as much as possible to succeed. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Well, what a growth moment though because I've had that too and I have personally felt surprised. One client I'm thinking of is just phenomenally accomplished. She is also a physician doing so many things. That and working from home, experience is kind of floaty “What do I do next? Let me look at my email again” kind of thing. It's so interesting, this growth opportunity that people have, I think, who have been relying for a long time on this external structure and expectations of other people to kind of keep them organized, keep them on track. 

Then, in the absence of that, really having to develop this internal motivation and this internal organizational system for “How do I prioritize my time and energy? How do I stay focused” and managing themselves in a lot of ways without supervision. What important and cool work, personal work, to have this opportunity to do that. 

Dr. Kristi: Yes, and a lot of the time management work I do is with physicians because they're so busy and with their on-call schedule shifting all the time, it's harder to stay on a regular… Even self-care track with the stress management and mindfulness because their schedule is different all the time. Yeah, they have a special challenge along with dealing with a lot of medical stress right now. 

How to Deal With Work Overload

Dr. Lisa: Well, I'm glad that we talked about just that the work from home stress, different kind of stress. Were there other things that came to your mind when I asked? 

Dr. Kristi: Just one thing that actually came up today and came up with several clients is that so people who are feeling empowered to leave, absolutely. If that's what they're feeling, they should go seek out what's going to make them really happy. I have a lot of those clients. They're like, “Life is short, I want to go do something else.” However, I also have a few clients who are the ones left in a business where multiple people…

Dr. Lisa: Are dropping out.

Dr. Kristi: As it is, yes. Now, they're doing the work of three and four people because of so many people leaving. The stress level is just at the top. With those clients, it's been addressing tools on self-care, stress management. Again, what can be put in place as far as advocating for help during this time and looking at the bigger picture down the road? Are they hiring more people? Are there temp people coming on? Taking on the role of multiple jobs, I've seen more and more. 

I've also had several clients, due to the pandemic, have very unexpected layoffs. They weren't looking for another job but all of a sudden, they found themselves in the position of “Okay, I need to find something.” Again, that just adds to the stress they were already dealing with the pandemic. Yeah, I've seen all kinds of issues cropping up related on all sides. 

Dr. Lisa: I've heard that too and I'd like to talk just a little bit more. Somebody who's working in a job doing their thing, doing a great job, and a couple other related people leave and they're being asked to do their job plus the job of others. I think that there needs to be some balance. With my clients though, I always err on the side of the boundary side, right? But the balance between being able to have boundaries and being able to say, “Actually, no. I'm working 40 hours a week. This is the time I have. What is most important for you for me to be doing? And that's what I'll do.” 

Those kinds of conversations with their bosses versus on the other side, especially, I think, for small organizations, being a team player and having faith that other people are coming and this isn't going to last forever. How do you help people kind of negotiate when to maybe, “Yeah, do a little bit more” and also when to say, “You know what? Actually, no. I'm not working on Saturday. Your problem, boss” without being a jerk about it? 

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, and I think, again, it's a good time that you have more bargaining power to say things like that. Whereas in the past…

Dr. Lisa: I would never actually say that, just for the record, those specific words.

Dr. Kristi: I think you do have more power now than employees did in the past because in the past, they'd be like, “Well then, we'll find someone who will and see ya.” Now, everyone is hiring so they don't want to lose anyone else. I do think places are more willing to work with you than in the past. Again, it depends on the nature of the job and your position in the company, right? Because people who are in leadership positions, a lot of them right now are working 60 hours a week.

Dr. Lisa: And there's nobody else.

Dr. Kristi: There's nobody else to give them the work to but in those cases, if it's someone who just… multiple peers have left and they're taking on that work, we talk about who their supervisor is. One of my clients today, their supervisor is the CEO so it's a little tricky but they have more bargaining power than they realized. Part of it is empowering them and realizing that they have any bargaining power in saying, “No, I don't want to work 70 hours this week.” 

Then, some of my clients, it's very sort of ebbs and flows with that. They'll have to work a lot of hours and then it'll dip back down, but then, based on the nature of the job, if it's a cyclical type job, it goes back up again. Then, it's around stress management waiting for that dip again if it's expected but nobody can stay working 60, 70 hours and not burnout and not get sick. 

Yes, it's teaching them how to approach, again, based on their supervisor’s personality, all those kinds of dynamics. How do you approach them where it would be best received? Then, I actually have them practice with me in session sometimes. If they're really uncomfortable and they are not good at advocating or, not that they're not good at it but they've never done it, I'll have them practice with me just to get more comfortable with doing that sort of thing. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Oh, just the ideas you're communicating too. Yeah, we can all step it up a little bit sometimes but that there have to be limits. The consequences of trying to do everything for extended periods of time is burnout, it has a negative impact on your health, probably your relationships, your mental wellness. You actually can't do it for extended periods of time, then it's unreasonable that somebody would ask you to. 

Dr. Kristi: It would negatively impact your work. You're not doing productive work 70 hours a week. You're just not. In fact, most people aren't even doing really productive work eight hours a day. They've done studies on it. You're usually really productive for four hours out of your day. I think that that's unrealistic, but again, the leaders are in the position of “You don't have anyone.” 

I know my husband, they just lost three people I think. He's actively hiring as fast as he can. Part of it from the leadership position is “Okay, how?” Because a lot of times, there's red tape, and you have to go through HR, and all that stuff, but like, “Okay, how quickly can we get the notice out there that we're hiring to get more people in?” 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Yeah, definitely, and making that the priority. Yeah. 

Dr. Kristi: It's not an easy answer with that because it's a really hard time right now.  

Dr. Lisa: It really is and I'm glad that we're talking about different aspects of this. There's pockets of stress for employees also for employers, so on both sides of the equation, it can be really stressful. It can be stressful to be at work these days, it can be stressful to be at home. There's opportunities for stress in many different areas. 

How to Deal with Stress at Work through Self-Care

Dr. Lisa: Then, lastly, given all of that, my last question for you before we wrap up is lots of stress. What advice do you give your clients for how to manage their stress in such a way that it doesn't come out sideways either in their interpersonal relationships at work, it's easy to get snappy with people, or with other people in your life, your partner, your kids? What do you do with that stress? 

Dr. Kristi: That is something that I've had expressed to me a lot is because of increased stress, people are getting in more arguments with their spouse or their loved ones, or they're feeling just more snappy and more irritable. That's just where the importance of the self-care comes in. It's interesting because when people most need to use their self-care because their stress levels are high is when they tell me they're so stressed, they're not using them at all. 

Dr. Lisa: “I don't have time.” 

Dr. Kristi: “I don't have time. I don't have time to meditate.” That just kind of compounds the issue. It's just sometimes, people think, “Well, I don't have an extra hour a day for self-care. I barely have time for eating and sleeping and all that.” A couple of things: one thing I work with people on right away is sleep because that is the number one self-care thing. It's the foundation of everything else. If you don't do anything else but you get your sleeping right and you're sleeping quality, good amount of hours sleep, or you're rested, that right there is the best self-care you can do. 

I have so many clients that that's where we have to start because they're not sleeping well or their brain is going about all the things they have to do, they're not falling asleep. Yes, so sleep is number one. I work with people on that first. Beyond that, you don't need an hour a day. I would say if you have that on the weekend and you can go for a hike with loved ones or walk your dog out in nature, being outside at all any time of the day is so good. You get the benefits of the sunlight, vitamin D, again, tends to raise the good feeling hormones in your body. 

You only need a few minutes. Walk outside, walk your dog around the block, walk outside to get the mail, sit outside to have a cup of coffee in the morning, whatever it is. You only need five minutes to do a meditation. A lot of my clients, when they get up in the morning before the hectic craziness of the day starts, they'll take five minutes and meditate. They found it's more effective to do it every day just for five minutes than to wait until you have that magical hour and meditate once a week. You get the benefits, all the benefits just from a few minutes which is amazing. 

They've shown MRIs of what meditation actually does to your brain. It changes how your brain is operating so if you start out your day, you have a good night's sleep, you start out your day with five minutes of just deep breathing or meditation, you're starting out your day from a place of being centered and calm. Then, whatever happens in the day, you've set the tone for the day. Even if something chaotic happens, which often, honestly, it does, you feel like you can handle it better because you started out like, “Okay, I got this. Yes, it's crazy but I can handle crazy because I meditated this morning.” It's just interesting how it resets the pathways of the neurochemicals. I'm a nerd with all that stuff so I go into… 

Dr. Lisa: You're a psychologist. It's to be forgiven, right? 

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, I'm a huge nerd but I'm a big believer in looking at how your brain adapts and how you can change the neural pathways of your brain with the chemicals going around based on certain states you're in. If you get yourself in that state even once a day, you're training your brain to get back to that state easier, and then, you can use that when moments of chaos happen. 

You can get yourself calm faster, much faster. I think people think you have to be a monk who meditates for hours in a cave and we don't have that kind of time and it just takes a few minutes a day. I would say sleep and some kind of morning practice for five minutes, whether it's journaling, breathing, meditation, stretching, yoga, whatever. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, yeah, and I heard some time away in there too. I think these ideas are so important, I think, for us to be talking out loud because I think I know that I do this. When you get super stressed and there’s work and there's all this stuff you have to do, it feels like the answer is to do more and to work faster and to spend more hours and to put in more time. What you're saying is that actually, the answer is to do the opposite of the impulse and stop. Go to bed, stop and meditate, go outside and that is actually the path to…

Dr. Kristi:  Absolutely. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, Thank you, Kristi.

Dr. Kristi: In fact, some of my clients, I will tell them to schedule a lunch break if they work through lunch and I tell them, “No, go walk around, go get some water, do something totally non-work-related because you will be more productive in that afternoon than if you had tried to push through.” You get more done by stopping.

Dr. Lisa: Wonderful reminder. Kristi, I feel you and I got a lot done today in this podcast. You shared so much wonderful information.

Dr. Kristi: Thank you.

Dr. Lisa: I really appreciate your time and your wisdom and I'm sure that our listeners today do too so thank you so much.

Dr. Kristi: Anytime, anytime. Happy to be here. Thank you, Lisa. 

[Outro Song]


The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is The Game-Changer

[social_warfare]

 

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AT WORK: Emotional intelligence (or, “EI” for short) drives your success at work. On a personal level, your career aspirations can stall or get entirely off track without emotional intelligence. However, emotional intelligence impacts entire organizations too. Without leaders who have high levels of emotional intelligence, organizations are negatively impacted through strained employee and customer relationships, higher turnover rates, and often lower bottom line results.

One Leader's Journey to Emotional Intelligence

As a career coach and leadership coach, I have a front row seat to observe just how impactful the presence or absence of emotional intelligence can be. I know from my work with individual leaders as well as organizations and management teams, that having even just one leader committed to improving their levels of emotional intelligence will affect your entire group. 

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Here's a real-world example of how to develop emotional intelligence.

I once had a leadership coaching client I'll call Jim, who was in a leadership position at a large, successful tech organization. Showing toughness and determination were obvious strengths for this leader and had played a huge part in his advancing to high levels in the tech industry.

But, after a certain level, what Jim knew how to do — being firm and direct, hardheaded and focused on results — wasn't working out for him anymore. It was easy to see that this 46-year-old leader had stopped moving forward and was stalled out in their current mid-management job, unhappy, and constantly wondering why the VP position wasn’t offered.

Even though Jim was working as hard as ever and driving his team towards even greater goals, there had been no mention of moving into levels of higher responsibility since joining the company 3 years ago. Jim was genuinely mystified: Couldn’t everyone see his advanced tech skills, his grinding work ethic, his name brand school, and impressive resume?

“Company sales were up, my team likes me, I make sure we do a happy hour every week— so why no promotions?” this executive questioned.  “And it was all but stated in my interviews that with hard work, meeting quotas and building a strong sales team, a promotion to VP was an opportunity that would be there.”

As if the frustration and disappointment that was mounting at work weren’t enough, Jim's relationships at home with his wife and kids were unhappy. His wife suggested they try couples counseling. (Jim felt this was entirely unnecessary…. at first).  

Emotional Intelligence is Often a Blind Spot For Leaders

What was creating so many problems for Jim was that he had zero awareness around how other people were feeling in their interactions with him. This was true for his co-workers, reports, leadership, and his wife and kids too.

Yes, Jim had a lot of impressive tech knowledge, skills, and fun personality (in a back-slapping kind of way) but these positives were overshadowed by his inability to be aware of and manage strong emotions or show empathy to those on the team. He had always viewed his fist pounding, demands, and tendency to talk over peers and customers instead of listening as “his style.”  He did not understand that his way of relating to other people was getting in the way of forming collaborative relationships, goodwill, and cooperation — both at work, and at home. 

Emotional Intelligence Coaching: The Lightbulb Goes Off

The organization had also reached its limits with this leader and suggested that emotional intelligence (EI) coaching and leadership coaching would be beneficial.  Not particularly a happy camper during our first meeting, this changed over time and good things started happening!

Before getting involved in Emotional Intelligence coaching, Jim, like many, genuinely believed that his outgoing personality, and drive for success,  paired with a strong set of software development skills and experience should be enough to advance his career. However, Jim was also a smart guy, and he was open to trying something different when he could see for himself that his usual way of doing things wasn't working out. [For more on this, check out “How to Get Ahead at Work“]

The first step of our emotional intelligence coaching work consisted of  360 emotional intelligence survey assessment called the ESCI, which would help us to understand the impact Jim was having on those around him. As part of my assessment process, I interviewed Jim's current manager and had his sales team, peers, and several customers all complete an online survey providing invaluable (anonymous) feedback.

In the first meeting to review survey results, a lightbulb went on for this leader.  Though it was tough to hear that the ambition, drive, and force that were self-described strengths could also be viewed as limitations, it was obvious that this leader’s behaviors were getting in the way of a high-level promotion and success at work. It wasn’t the ambition and drive that was negative; it was the expression of those (impatience, yelling, over-focus on output at the expense of people) that was a problem. However, with Jim's newfound self-awareness he could now understand them as the career-limiting behaviors that they were and change could begin.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

Through coaching and determined practice, this manager improved key leadership skills. One skill area that was notably low on the assessment (and a total “blind spot”) was mentoring and coaching employees. What a great change on the sales team when they began to see their leader had more interest in how they could each grow at work and made sure they got what they needed to be successful. Jim's sincere interest in how people were doing (and the ability to listen and understand) went much further towards building moral and positive relationships than his happy hour.

Most importantly, Jim learned that leaders need to manage conflict effectively.  This manager’s emotional intelligence survey results were clear: a better way to handle inevitable work conflicts needed to happen, especially with the sales team and customers. (Interestingly, survey outcomes showed this leader managed conflicts more effectively with peers and with his own manager.) Being more self-aware meant better self-management, which meant no more fist-pounding or loud-voiced demands, which meant far better workplace relationships. Instead, Jim learned to recognize and manage his own feelings, and show (and feel) empathy and consideration for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

It took a lot of practice to change old habits and stitch together change, but Jim was able to put his core strengths of intelligence, determination, and hard work to great use. He was successful.

The Benefit of Emotional Intelligence Coaching

As is my process in emotional intelligence coaching and leadership coaching, I checked back in with Jim and his company. According to the organization some months later, company-wide positive changes had been experienced because of Jim's turnaround. Customers were more satisfied (at least in part) as a result of this one leader’s understanding of their impact in the workplace. Key employees were more productive. They'd reduced turnover. Leadership was happy.

Jim was happy too. Because of his long-standing ability to be resilient and manage change, he was able to drive his career to the next level. He got that promotion. But perhaps even more importantly, he'd also strengthened relationships with his wife and family. Jim's new understanding of the importance of emotions, how to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, ability to listen, and to communicate more respectfully touched every area of his life in a very positive way. 

Jim can do it, and you can too! I hope this story inspires you to develop emotional intelligence in yourself. It's worth it.

Sincerely,

Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT, Certified EI Coach

 

[social_warfare]

HEALTHY PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS | Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT is a relationship expert and certified emotional intelligence coachwith years of experience as a marriage counselor, executive coach, and leadership coach. She’s here to help you cultivate positive relationships in every area of your life. Learn more about Linda…

Let's  Talk

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Career Pathing: How to Find Your Passion

Career Pathing: How to Find Your Passion

Finding a career that aligns with your passion can be difficult. Often, fears and outside factors can make it hard to commit to moving forward with big picture plans and career goals. Nonetheless, it is possible with self-reflection and self-awareness to develop a plan that truly aligns with your passions and goals. In this interview with certified career counselor Megan R., we will discuss how to make your passion your career. 

In this episode, you will learn how to get clarity about your passion. You will also learn the other factors and hindrances that stop you from pursuing it. Knowing these can help you better understand yourself and the path you have to take.

Tune in to the full interview to learn how to make your passion your career path in the happiest and most successful way possible!

In This Episode: How to Make Your Passion Your Career

  • Learn how to take inventory of what’s going on in your life
  • Learn how to break out of choice paralysis
  • Understand how to reflect on your past experiences and make meaning out of them
  • Find the importance of work-life balance in choosing your career
  • Value yourself and practice self-care
  • Discover the power of career counseling and how it can help you
  • Find out why you feel burnout

Episode Highlights

Choice Paralysis and Getting Unstuck

While 2020 and the pandemic resulted in sudden changes in our lifestyles, they also gave us plenty of opportunities. This time at home allowed us to take inventory of what's currently happening in our lives (and what isn't). For some of us, this past year has been a form of an awakening – realizing what we may be missing or seeing potential areas of growth both personally and professionally. When it comes to “getting unstuck” and “getting started,” here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you managing your time in the best way possible?
  • Are you on the right career path? 
  • Is your work in line with your passion?

While the answers to these questions can lead to a more precise understanding of where you're currently at and where you would like to be, they can also lead to choice paralysis (and more questions!). Now, we don't want to deter you from exploring these questions and really diving into your answers because this is an important step in the process of discovering your passion. However, it's important to be aware that this feeling of choice paralysis is common! And you're going to get through it!

As Denver Career Counselor, Megan R. puts it, “Sometimes we become so hopeful and so excited about what could happen next, [we] start to grapple with…paralysis analysis. Saying things like, ‘I put all of these options in front of me. And I don't even know if half these options are viable.'

So, how do you get unstuck when you want to move forward in your quest for find the perfect career path? It helps to understand the problems that hold you back from making a choice.

When you want to get really clear about your next steps and make sure they are in alignment with your overall goal, career counseling can assist you in that step. A career counselor can help you unravel the worries and fears that you may be experiencing and help you find a clearer understanding of what your next move should be. They can also help you set things in motion once you find the right path.

Finding Work/Life Balance On Your Career Path

Some of us may be scared to pursue our passions because of the needed dedication that would take away from non-work related life. The best way to prepare is to have a plan. When it comes to work/life balance, it's important that you understand what changes may need to take place, especially temporary changes. This way you can be prepared for any challenges that may show up when you begin your journey on a new career path. Here are some questions to reflect on:

  • Does your career change require additional schooling or higher education of some sort? If so, do you need to keep your job while in school?
  • Do you have a spouse and kids? How will you balance your most important relationships?
  • Do you have a roommate that is also sharing your workspace at home? How will the effect your experience and how can you set yourself up for success?

To better understand how your work/life balance may be affected by these changes, Megan suggests asking yourself, “What kind of timeline are we working with here?” Knowing the answer to this question will help you understand how to pace yourself through these changes and will help allow you some wiggle room along the way.

Megan refers to this process as “identifying the landmines.” Landmines are the sudden changes that may happen in your life. It can also help you prepare you when suddenly facing these challenges, making it easier to move forward. 

Career Pathing: What Is It?

Career pathing is the process of determining the career development course of an employee inside an organization. Initially, the trait-factor approach determines where a person should work. It factors in your traits and the job you are most likely to succeed in based on other's experiences. While this may have helped before, it is essential to acknowledge that human beings and society are getting more complex.

Career counseling is beginning to shift into a life design paradigm. In this design, you take into consideration that your employee is a complex human being. So you must help them understand the answers to these questions:

  • What are the roles that I hold?
  • What are my long-term goals?
  • What are my values?

When the answers to these questions are taken into account, the “employee” who holds a particular role, is now seen as an individual on a particular career path. This way of thinking can help employers better understand their employees career goals and help support them on their career path.

How to Find Your Passion

For some, their passion is clear as day. Others find it hard to understand and define what it is. The most straightforward approach is to start at the beginning and ask yourself these questions:

  • What went well in my past jobs and hobbies?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What would you like to replicate from previous experiences?
  • What would you not like to happen again?

It is easier to work from the past because these are events that already happened. You don’t need to think about creating new answers; you only need to reflect. You need to make meaning of the past first for better self-awareness. Reflecting and brainstorming on the past can also give you a roadmap to follow when choosing your career path.

Burnout: How Does This Happen?

Unfortunately, many people don’t know what career counselors are. Even Megan shares that she didn’t know about them until she is already in the field of counseling. Because we skip this process of taking inventory of ourselves before we even pick our college degrees, we lack self-awareness. And so, along the way, only some of us stay on the path we chose. In contrast, others get bored or experience burnout.

Why does burnout happen? There are typically one of two reasons for burnout:

  1. We stop finding joy in what we are doing because we stopped reflecting. When you stop reflecting on your experiences, it's easy to lose sight of what you enjoy and what you don't. You can quickly find yourself in a monotonous cycle of going through the motions. By setting time aside to reflect on your day or week, you're allowing room for growth and understanding. You get to learn a little more about yourself, your passions, and even your dislikes.
  2. Outside factors also influence this lack of motivation. These outside factors could include sudden life changes like marriage, children, or sickness. When important life changes occur, we can revert to working out of necessity and not because we love what we are doing.

By finding meaning in your past experiences you can foster hope and make looking at the future easier.

Changing Your Career Path

Are you ready to make a change to your career path? Congratulations! This is an exciting and hopeful time. To best set yourself up for success when changing your career path here are some important career path tips to take into account.

1. Begin working with an expert career counselor. By connecting with a career counselor early, you can receive expert advice on setting up your career path, your timeline goals, and putting together the steps for achieving these goals.

2. Reflect on your experiences. When you reflect on your experiences you better understand what it is that you enjoy (and what you don't!). Setting aside time daily or weekly to reflect on your experiences will help you make more confident choices moving forward on your career path.

3. Know that it's okay to move slow. Instead of jumping into these drastic changes, know that it's okay to move slow and take small steps as you move forward. You don't have to have it all figured out on day one.

4. Make space for a healthy work/life balance. If quitting your current job means financial instability, then maybe it's better to wait to fully quit your current position until you're more financially stable. Also, keep in mind your most important relationships. How will these changes affect your family, your partner, your friends? Make space in your career path for those you care the most about. Although your time together may change a little in the meantime, it's still important to maintain these relationships throughout these changes.

Resources

  • Interested in learning more about Megan R and her career counseling services? Read her bio and schedule a free consultation with Megan here: Meet Megan R!
  • Growing Self – Learn more about our free online career resources for you!

Megan R., M.A., LPCC, NCC, CCC has shared invaluable information about finding your passion and choosing your right career path. What did you connect and relate to the most? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment down below.

Did you like this interview? Subscribe to us now to discover how to live a life full of love, success, and happiness!

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Make Your Passion Your Career

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: So Many Things by Aurora D’Amico

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you're listening to the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast

[So Many Things by Aurora D’Amico plays] 

Dr. Lisa: That's So Many Things by Aurora D’Amico. Beautiful song, and perfect for our topic today. Because today we're talking about how to get clarity when you could literally go in any direction, it seems like. I think that's one of the weird benefits, almost, of this experience that we've just been through together, of having it feel like the world is basically just falling apart. Now we all have to regroup and rebuild. But in the kind of hidden opportunity there is that it disrupts things, it creates space. It's harder, I think, to make major life changes when you're already in this like, really clear, entrenched path, and everything is just moving in one direction. It's hard to get off that train sometimes. But when things feel a little iffy, and when there's not a ton of clarity about what exactly is going to be happening next, it can create this space, this opportunity to think about, “Well, what do I want to have happen next? And how can I potentially design it?” 

I think a lot of people are in the space right now. And some people it's showing up in their relationships, some in the sort of existential what am I doing with my life thing. And there can be many components of that, certainly, but an important one of those is, “What am I doing with my career?” 

I think that's why, I mean, here at Growing Self, we've seen a ton of clients showing up with an interest in talking about their careers. So, we do career counseling, and career coaching, professional development, coaching, and that's a lot of what we're doing lately—is talking with people about how to either make a pivot in their career, or go more deeply into their chosen career path. But the most important thing that I'm hearing over and over again from our clients is, “I need meaning. I need this to be in alignment with my passion and what I really want to be doing with my life, because I know there's sort of this renewed awareness that life is short, and that we need to make it count.” So that's the theme. 

In addition to that part, been seeing just a ton of really smart, resourceful, successful people, who are in a decent place, but they're, they're saying, “I feel like it could be more,” right. They're also saying that they feel like they have a lot of different opportunities that they could go in many different directions. And that in itself, while it's a good thing, can also feel really paralyzing, because people get very anxious about, “Okay, so I could do 10 different things, but which one is the right thing?” Especially when they're all, maybe kind of interesting or kind of good and they have to choose one, in order to make it happen. Then there's this stress. They wind up getting stuck, an indecision, where they feel like it's hard to make any choice at all, which then just perpetuates more of the same. As we all know, we can stay stuck in the same place for quite a long time without that energy to go in one direction or the other. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Choice Paralysis

So what we're talking about today is how do we begin to break out of that paralysis, especially with new opportunities on the horizon and pick not just a path, but the “right path.” To help us with this, I have invited a colleague of mine on today's episode. We're going to be speaking with career counselor and professional development coach, Megan Rankin. Megan is my colleague, here at Growing Self, and she is amazing. She is a legitimate expert on this topic. She has a whole master's degree in career development. And I mean, so this is what she specializes in. She's a certified career counselor. She's been doing this for a while and she is also has a background as a therapist, too. She's here today to share her perspective on what it takes to get clear about that career path and start putting things into motion, especially when you have a lot of options. So Megan, thank you. 

Megan Rankin: Of course, yes. Yay. Well, absolutely, no, thank you for having me. This is definitely to kind of piggyback off of what you shared. A lot of my clients come to me at that point. It's not necessarily a crisis, or “I don't know what to do,” but they do have a lot of options in front of them. A Lot of times, it's “I just need someone to talk this through with, and I would love a little guidance on how do I take that next step. How do I even know a next step is warranted?” 

Yeah, absolutely. There's a lot of that going on. I think COVID stirred a lot of that up for us. And as a career counselor choosing to see that as a great opportunity, right, take inventory of what's going on in our lives. And make sure we are using our time well, when we're working from home or maybe unemployed or whatever COVID brought for us in our career. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, definitely. Well, I love your positive spin and that idea that it's an opportunity, and that—I mean, I know, it sounds kind of trite but hidden in difficult life experiences, there usually is an opportunity of some kind, but we just have to have to find it.

Okay, so if we go into this more deeply. Say that you have a career counseling client who's showed up and is in that situation. They're stable, maybe it's not a bad situation, but they're really having that sense of wanting more. They want a career that is in alignment with their passion, and they're doing something that they kind of like, but it's not as good as it could be.  I'm wondering, if you could just, maybe you could start by just taking us into what are some of the things that you see these clients grappling with? I mean, not so much specific choices, but like, how does it feel?

Megan: Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting, it's a catch 22, right? Because if we do have a positive spin on it, and say, “Okay, this is a nice time to take some inventory and look through some things.” There's hope in that, and we love hope. We want to see hope. It's where I start a lot of time, let's foster help, if that doesn't feel like it's kind of readily available for us. 

You were mentioning, it almost creates paralysis. Sometimes we become so hopeful, and so excited about what could happen next, that clients start to grapple with, oh, my gosh, paralysis analysis. “I put all of these options in front of me. I don't even know if half of these options are viable, if I should even be researching any of these options. Do I even like half of these options? What about all the other people this might affect?” I have a lot of clients that kind of forget. It's very normal. 

People are affected by your job, right? Yes, it's a very personal experience, your career, because you're the one showing up doing the work advancing or not. But what about the family? Who are you living with that's impacted by this career choice? Do you have kids? Do you have a spouse? Do you live with roommates, they're also working from home, and if you make a career pivot, now you're going to work from home with them. 

Definitely, grappling with just the context of their career. That is something that I don't take lightly as a career counselor. My therapy background kicks in and says, “Hey, what else is this spilling into?” Yes, you've got a 9 to 5 self that we're going to explore, your career self. What about when you close your laptop, or you hang up the phone, or you get back in your car and drive home? So not only are they grappling with just the options that are out there, we're also grappling with what kind of transition are we actually embarking on? If we do choose to shake some things up, and what's going to kind of be different if we do take a step in the next direction. 

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, that's so important. I could see how that's a really necessary place to start. It's like, not even just what you want to do, but like the context of everything. That's a great point because I hear from people all the time that their career can become so consuming. So, like much of their life, it's almost difficult to have anything else. They get home at the end of the day, and they're so wiped out or exhausted. Or if your career pivot is going to require graduate school, and you have to maintain your job through that, how will that impact your personal life? Having that kind of conversation first to map it all out can be necessary.

Career Pathing

Megan: Right. Well, we hope it saves us from a little heartache, right? Because if we do have the beauty of we’re not rushing into jobs. Sometimes that happens, we do have timelines, we do have families to support. But in exploring the context, that helps us determine what our timeline is. 

Often when people come and meet with me, and then we start exploring the options, one of my very first questions is, “What kind of timeline are we working on here? Are you looking to be working with me for a long time? And we can take this, bit by bit? Because the salary that you're working with, or the paychecks you've got coming in cover you?” Or are you looking at me like, “No, Megan, this change needed to have happened yesterday. We're trying to move the ball really, really quickly here.” 

So in establishing a timeline, it does give us a little wiggle room. It also helps us when we think about that long term. I call it identifying the landmines. Right, when we're looking into our future and what's out there, it can be really helpful to anticipate some things. It doesn't take away. Right? Landmines happen, big transitions happen in our lives, I think we could all agree with COVID, we all experienced probably one of the biggest transitions that we could not anticipate. But even just a little work around. “I might struggle with networking. It tends to make me feel a little bit uncomfortable” If we can anticipate that, when it comes to the networking piece, we've already known, “Hey, that's going to be a little scary. Maybe we take some of the scariness out of it.” And we now spend a little extra time in that field or in that arena of job searching, makes it a little easier moving forward. So in looking at context, we can anticipate sort of what’s going on. 

Dr. Lisa: That makes sense. Because it's like there's a difference between somebody who really just needs a different job, like stat, versus somebody that you're working with, and it's conversations around, imagine like, “Do you want children? Where do you want to be living? What does your partner think about?” The phrase that's coming up is that designing a life type conversations compared to getting a different job, because those two things are really different.

Megan: Yeah. Well, and you're kind of actually speaking to some really big paradigm shifts that we did see in the career world. For a long time, moving forward, it was kind of that trait factor approach, right? Where if you have these skills, these aptitudes, well, here's a job that you can do. We've seen success for people like you in the field, go for it. There's still some really great knowledge we can glean from that. 

As we're getting more complex as human beings, our society is getting more complex, so as our context, right? And you're kind of pointing out the kind of this life design paradigm that career counseling is really shifting into, and that takes in consideration, what are the roles I hold? What are my long-term goals? What are my values? It takes the employee and makes them into a human, rather than just an employee. Because good career counseling acknowledges the human in you. And says, “Hey, where are we getting this information from? What information is important to you when we are looking for jobs?” 

Absolutely, life design is—that's where I feel most comfortable operating. And that's actually how I'm able to act as someone who honors her therapy path while being a really good career counselor. I kind of blend the two in that way. 

Dr. Lisa: That's perfect. Because I think sometimes that's what people think is going to happen when they show up for career counseling. It's like you're going to give them a couple of tests, and then you're going to compute their scores, and then say, “Okay, you should be a forest ranger. Here are three places that you can apply and go do that.” Right. And, but yours. 

Megan: See you when you’re done. 

Dr. Lisa: There's that old school mentality. But what you're saying is that there's so much more to it, that it's not just what you could do, or that you would enjoy doing, or that has the benefits that you would be interested in. It's who are you as a human and what's your “Why?” Why are we doing all of this? 

What Is My Passion?

Megan: Absolutely. The “why” is huge. That's what we focus on a lot of times, and especially  when that word passion comes up. I have a lot of clients, “Megan, I want to do something I'm passionate about, I'm passionate about it.” 

In kind of determining passion, first, we're starting with defining passion, because my passion is going to look a lot different than your passion, versus the guy walking down the street, he has a different passion than you do. So we're really spending some time defining—what does passion even look like. Because if we don't know, we're just shooting in the dark. Right? So we start with that. 

Then as we're kind of moving forward and figuring other things out, I'm asking you about, “What did your parents have to say about career? What did your teachers have to say about career? How is that influencing the work that you're doing? Is that playing a factor in this?” Maybe you receive some negative information about the world of work and about career and that's actually holding you back, and we didn't really understand that just yet. That kind of matching approach would neglect that. 

But looking at the person as a human says, “Hey, let's check out the messaging around this.” Or even, “What does the culture say about this? What messages are you intaking from our culture, from our society? Are you disqualifying yourself before we even put it on the table? Or do you have preconceived ideas about, “Well, I have to do that because of X, Y, and Z.” Right. We want to define passion. Those pieces, that's part of understanding your passion and getting clarity around the why.

Dr. Lisa: I think I'm hearing you say, the first step is to do some exploration on how you got to where you are right now, almost. It’s did you create this? Or were you sort of bending in the direction of these cultural forces and messages? Sort of differentiating what's you and the authentic self-directed part, versus what your mom thought you should do, or where your mom thought you should be when you are 31. Is that what you see happening? 

Megan: 100%. Absolutely, yeah, definitely. In that connection, you’re really surprising for people, when I do ask questions around their past, they're like, “What do you mean? We're preparing for my future, five years?” “Yeah, we are. We're going to hold space for that.” And they've got a lot of cool questions oriented around that. The conversation around that, though, is so much more fruitful if you trust me for just a little bit and allow us to kind of pivot and turn back and say, “What brought you here? How did that go for you? Do you have some thoughts about your career?”

I also a lot of times in job searching, maybe when we are kind of getting into the more tough—kind of what we will call hard skills, right? Are you interviewing well, is your resume in line? Does your cover letter look good? When I kind of explore a lot of that, sometimes there's parts of our job past that we actually haven't made peace with. We need to spend some time around that. Right? So let's say you were in a job, you had a really negative experience, maybe management, you didn't enjoy management. 

Dr. Lisa: It’s toxic environment kind of thing? 

Megan: Toxic. Yeah, absolutely. Yep. Something that may be dragged you down. Maybe you got fired, or you got let go, and you haven't done any healing around that experience. When we kind of move forward and work on those hard skills, that actually might come up a little bit. If we can do some work on it before we get to that resume and cover letter, it's going to make that resume and cover letter work really fruitful. 

That can be a surprise for people when I say, “Hey, tell me about what brought you here? How did you get to sitting in front of me from the start to the end? And let's pull some of that apart.” Trust piece comes in, because I asked them, “Can you trust me this is going to be effective?” Because sometimes, people are like, “This is dumb, I don't want to talk about it.” And I honor that, it can be hard, right? That typically indicates to me though, we do need to do a little work around what brought you here, and make sure we kind of make sense and meaning, right? The life design. When we're thinking about you as a human and how you've designed your life, I got to know what artistry and craftsmanship you do.

Dr. Lisa: Oh my gosh. I have never actually thought about it in that way before. But it's almost like shifting from a career or a job. I am such a relationship person. I'm running it through my relationship filter right now. But it would be impossible and not wise to jump into a new relationship without doing a little bit of an autopsy on the last one and how did that impact your… Even the dating coaching clients around talking about relationship history, where have you been, and certainly for couples, because these life experiences are so impactful. 

What I'm hearing you say is that you're slowing people down sometimes to mine the growth experiences out of like, “What did you learn about yourself and your values in this situation with this toxic narcissistic boss?” What are you going to take from that, right?

Megan: Everyone's had one. Additionally a nice add on to this, not only do we kind of understand our past a little more and make some meaning out of it, there's some—you said the word kind of mining, right? I think of hidden gems. So when people talk to me about, “Hey, I want to do something I'm passionate about.” You kind of stare at the abyss that is your future, how hard is it to define passion? Oh my gosh, you could spend 45 minutes sitting in silence and never fully defined passion. 

So when I have clients that give me that blank stare of, “I don't really know,” I say, “Hey, let's take an easier approach. Let's start with your past. What went well, what didn't go well? What would you like to replicate? What could you do without never occurring again in your future?” Looking through those past experiences can be a very, very comfortable place to start. It's already happened, you're not having to create new answers. You're just reflecting what occurred. And it raises self-awareness, it kind of flexes—I use the kind of gym analogy a lot with clients—we're flexing muscles together. 

The big muscle we work with in the beginning is reflection. Can you reflect on what's occurred in the past and make meaning out of it first, like we just chatted about? But can we also glean some really cool gems from it? “Did you really like working with kiddos in that last place? Really, you did? How are we going to fit that into our definition of passion? What does that mean for your future when we plan and kind of strategize and brainstorm together? What’s the past?” To see if that can give you kind of a roadmap.

Dr. Lisa: That's great. It's really that exploration and the mining to figure out who you are and what is important. 

Okay, can I ask you a question? This is somewhat random, and I'm sure it's probably different for every person that I know. Here, in our practice, what we see a lot of, the types of clients are people who are sometimes fairly well established even, in careers in which they are objectively successful. They're okay. Nothing terrible is happening, but they're just not feeling it. They're bored sometimes, or they're like, “Eh, is this all?” 

Question one related to that, how do you think that happens? Usually it requires at least some intention to get on a trajectory. A lot of times, it happens when we're so young. We need to choose college majors when we're 18. I don't know about you, I didn't know if I was coming or going when I was 18. I mean…. 

Megan: I got a lot to say about college majors, don’t even worry about it.

Dr. Lisa: I mean, do people just like get on this trajectory before they even truly know themselves? Is that how the situation is created? Or do you see other things lay there when you have a 29 year old who's dreading going to work on Monday? How does that happen? 

Megan: Yeah, a couple of different things. And you kind of, you touched on it right, with each person there’s a little difference. But college, absolutely. If someone does go the kind of “traditional route,” where they finish up their secondary schooling, they finished high school, and they are going to move into a university setting. And yeah, there's a lot of pressure in those four years, if you do a four-year degree, if you do a two-year degree, to kind of make a stamp right? And say, “This is what I'm doing. I picked this major.” If you're one of the really great people, and you go to your career center, awesome. Maybe you've done a little work around that. 

Fun fact, I'm a career counselor, and I never once went to my career center. No, it happens, yes, we're the—oh my gosh, we're bad. The bulk of us are like this, we didn't even know this field existed until we got into it ourselves. 

But what happens a lot of times, there's nothing wrong with picking that trajectory, sticking to it, moving forward. That shows dedication, that shows commitment, I think that's great. What I noticed when that happens is a lot of times, there's just a lack of self-awareness. Because when you think about that, there was really no pause that was required of you to take inventory. So when you let's say, do pick that major. And let's say I'm going to pick on human development, because that's what I majored in, right. So I picked that trajectory. I get into my very first job, I keep moving, I keep moving, I keep moving. 

When I'm motivated by just getting the next job, never am I required to pause and say, “Why the heck did I pick human development in the first place? Why am I even enjoying this anymore? Am I enjoying this anymore? When my self-awareness and my reflection muscle, like I was talking about that exercise analogy, when that gets weak, when I'm not working out reflecting, it's not going to be my go-to exercise. I'm not going to reflect on what's happening. I'm not going to kind of initiate my own pause and say, “Am I actually enjoying it?” So that sometimes happens. That's one of the first things I see. 

The second thing that I see for people, when they are let's take that 29-year-old, just don't even want to get up and go to work today, outside factors can influence that. Some people get married earlier than they had anticipated. They have children earlier than anticipated. They experience a cross country move that they had never thought was going to happen. They have a parent who gets sick that they now have to be the caretaker for. 

A lot of times, what I just say, life happens. And it was by necessity that you just had to keep moving from job to job because that paycheck was really important to you. That's just as valid of an experience as someone who picked a major and stuck with it all the way till the end. That’s why when I'm with my clients, I'm taking time to figure out how I got there. We can make meaning around that. 

I want to know when you tell me, you had kids earlier than you expected, tell me how important they are to you, though. And did you still use that time really well because I'm sure you did. Even if you were moving paycheck to paycheck, let's make some meaning around it, maybe take some of—I find when people are at that spot, there's shame. Right? They're looking at themselves at 29 thinking…

Dr. Lisa: How did I get here? 

Megan: “I really envisioned something different.” Exactly. And there's a lot of despair, actually, that comes out of like, “Man, I don't really know how this even happened.” When I mentioned hope, right, it's really hard to do any kind of career work without hope. We're going to kind of figure out at that age 29, I hate this spot. “Okay, let's make some meaning of how you got here, though, first. That fosters hope, it's going to be a little easier to look forward.” So those are kind of the two big, I would say, processes that I see people get in there. It's dependent on each clients. 

Dr. Lisa: It makes so much sense. But I could almost see how like having it make sense to your clients, too. You brought up words, I mean, big words like shame and despair. But to be able to tell the story about, yeah, “Here's what was actually going on in my life when I made this decision. And this is why it made sense at the time. I could see how, many times, these decisions are like the path of least resistance in some ways.” And then over time, it kind of snowballs because your work experience, your work history qualifies you for more of this situation. And so you’re like, you keep growing and developing in a field that you are sort of ambivalent about, to begin with. And then, at a certain point, like, you have a great income, you have all the things and it's hard to let go of, because there's almost a lot to lose without idea of—I mean, it's not always starting over, certainly, but I think it can be scary.

How to Find Your Passion

Megan: Yeah, but it can feel that way. It can feel even if it's not fully starting over, you're still probably for one of the first times in your life, out loud saying, “I'm not happy where I’m at.” And that alone can really be—it's jarring to kind of admit that though, sticking with this 29—I’m sorry for all the 29-year-olds out there, I'm sure people are doing well at 29.

Dr. Lisa: It's a crossroads that that age, yeah, 28 to 32. 

Megan: And we love them, we love them. That can be—imagine having to reflect on your whole life and say, “Wow, my choices got me here. Okay, but I'm doing all right, I'm going to make some changes. It's a really scary part to be in.” That's why career counseling can be so wonderful. You finally have somebody to have that feeling with, if despair comes up, if shame comes up. A lot of people though, it's excitement. And it's, “Okay, I'm ready to do it. I can't believe we're finally—we get past that panic of oh my gosh, everything shifting, the excitement kicks in, the hope kicks in. The what's next? 

A lot of people get really ambitious. They're like, “Okay, I've been waiting all this time, right?” There's this energy in them that comes up.We just got to make a little meaning of it first, and something that I really enjoy kind of letting people in on when we do start talking about “Okay, what's next, and how can we do this?” When we're making meaning of that past, or when we're naming some of the feelings that we're having, and we're just getting language around it, we're actually kind of using a double-edged sword. Not only are you going to feel a lot better about it and find some hope, you also just practice articulating that to an employer. 

Let's say we are in an instance where 29 years in the making, you've been working on this career, your resume shows that. Nw, let's say I'm in human development, and I'm shifting the business. “Oh my gosh, my resume doesn't look at all like what it should look like to get me into business.” So, when I'm in that interview, and they're asking me, “Hey, Megan, there's a pretty big gap between the direction you're headed and where you've been. Help us understand.” You've already spent time working with me, putting language to this experience, articulating it, understanding it, taking the shame out of it, taking the fear out of it. It's a really, really, kind of hidden skill that I try to get my clients to enjoy with me of, “Thanks for doing this hard work.” First, you feel better, benefit number one. Second, these employers are really going to enjoy what meaning you did make out of it, and you just kind of without knowing it practice interviewing skills. So, I’m little sneaky about that, but it’s good. 

Dr. Lisa: But before somebody can sell themselves to another person or an employer, it's like they have to have sold themselves on “yes,” they have to get that cut that type of clarity. That is like working through it with you and having those conversations and yeah. Wow. 

Megan: Absolutely. 

Career Counselling

Dr. Lisa: Okay, so now, I don't know if this has come up in your career counseling conversations, but I have talked to clients who sometimes struggle with the situation, because I think it can be difficult to have to figure out how bad is bad enough for me to want to burn this all down and go do a different thing. But it's almost—let's see, what are the words? How can people get clear as to whether or not they are really unhappy with this job specifically, versus what is kind of normal and expected when it comes to any career path? 

Personally, I feel like I'm quite passionate about the work that I do. I had to have a couple career iterations before I figured that out. I'm sure you feel the same, like, there are some days where you're like, “Oh, can I do this today? Yes, I can. I can do it. I'm drinking my coffee, I'm going to do it.”  There's always ebb and flow, and I think that it can be difficult for people to sometimes be, “Okay, so if I feel this way sometimes, does this mean that I'm in the wrong career? Because there's something that it could be more passionate about? Or is this just what it feels like to be in a long-term career?” Like a long term relationship, you know? There are times when your partner, like the rest of us, is a mixed bag. It's not always fun. Just sorting through, doesn't mean I need a different career, or is this me needing to work on myself? How bad is bad enough to make—and I know that this is a big, complicated, probably incoherent question that I've just asked of you. I'm sure your clients probably come in, with some kind of download that’s similar around with that I said. 

Megan: I am so used to, right making sense of the—I get a lot of “I'm sorry, I just thought about it.” That’s fine. 

Dr. Lisa: Exactly. That’s what we do on this podcast, which is I just word vomit.

How to Find a Career You Love

Megan: Yeah, yes. Let the thoughts roll. Yes. You know what? That can be a really hard to kind of define that threshold, it’s a really challenging threshold to define. It is. A lot of times it's client to client, circumstances to circumstances. 

First thing we're looking at, how secure is that job making you? Before we do any craziness, is this a job that paycheck to paycheck, if that paycheck were to go away, things would not be looking good? We have to take in the reality of the situation first, when we think about that, once we've done some work around that. For some clients, that's a really quick answer of like, “I'm good, it's time.” For other clients, we're going to have to kind of reach that threshold, get some skills around hanging in that threshold because we need to stay in this job for a little bit longer. That's okay. 

Let's take the great scenario of I'm ready, “My savings is set. I'm good to go.” When we think about ebbs and flows, and kind of how we tackle them in a day-to-day situation, the first thing you're going to look at, and this is actually a really fun activity you can do with somebody or on your own: envision your life at a 10 year mark and a five year mark. Start as far out as possible. For some people that far out mark may only be two years, and that's okay. Some of my younger clients, when you're just getting out of school, it's going to be that, you're, “I don't really know this field just yet.” So, we're only looking at two years, that's okay. 

Pick your timeframe. I'll do 10 years, and we'll use my personal life example. In 10 years, I've got a lot of goals around it. When I reflect on where I'm at currently, I asked myself the question of “Does this job align with my 10-year goal.” Typically, thankfully, right now, my answer is yes. So, when I'm pouring that cup of coffee with a sleepy man in my eye, because it's Monday, and I don't want to go to work, I say to myself, In 10 years, you're going to have done so much work to get here, it's going to be worth it.” 

Now, let's say you have your 10-year vision, and when you think about that 10-year mark, I challenge you to think about where are you living? Who are you living with? What car are you driving, what groceries do you have in your fridge? Think about the lifestyle you want when you think about that 10 year goal. Not just “I want to have this job title.”Got to get more specific. When you think about and you detail out that vision, let's say the answer actually is, “Wow, in 10 years, no, my life looks a lot different. And the current role I'm in now is not getting me there. That's maybe how we're determining the threshold. 

Dr. Lisa: that kind of difference there, is this a vehicle to get me to where I want to go. But first, you really have to be clear about that—where do I actually want to go? As opposed to just waking up every day and doing the same thing over and over again.

Megan: Yeah, right? Well, because we don't want to make any crazy decisions, just because we're not feeling happy at work, right? And I think the word burnout has been tossed around so much at COVID. And I work a lot with the symptoms of burnout, and it can be really challenging to kind of define it and look at it. When we're experiencing symptoms of burnout, it can be really easy to want to pull the plug and say, “Forget it. I'm going on to Indeed, I'm going on to LinkedIn, I'm finding a new job, I don't care. I don't want to do this anymore.” It's okay to have those feelings. Bring those feelings on in, sit with those feelings, journal them out, cry them out, scream them out, do what you got to do. Don't make a decision when you're in that specific moment, right? 

Dr. Lisa: That’s a good advice. 

Megan: Because that's when we see kind of the “Ooh, maybe we could have avoided some of this toss up that's happening, some of this uncertainty now that we just quit a job that was actually really stable, and maybe did align with our 10 year plan,” right? Having that 10-year plan and goal and vision already designed for you. Though, sometimes it can be nice just to escape to that for a couple minutes a day, enjoy your vision, enjoy it. Remind yourself why you're doing the work you're doing right now so those crazy kind of quick knee jerk reactions aren't dictating too much of your life. 

Dr. Lisa: What a good point, and we could talk so much more deeply about this topic. Our time is limited, but that's a wonderful resting point and a reminder that, when we're not really well, like in burnout. I mean, there are a lot of symptoms of burnout that really do mimic depression. It changes that way you think, it changes the way you feel. What you're saying is, when you're in that sort of mental and emotional space, it is not the best time to make major life decisions with major life consequences. It's almost like, slow down, take some time to get real clear. Yeah, thank you for saying that. 

Especially I think right now, in this day and age, people probably need to hear that because who is at their best, right now? In this particular moment?

Megan: Very few.

Dr. Lisa: Give it some time and space, and thank you.

Megan: Well, and it also kind of touches on another word that even prior to COVID got tossed around a lot, is self-care, right? How are you taking care of yourself? Now, if we think about, maybe you are kind of reaching close to that crisis point of I'm ready to throw up my hands and just quit. Yeah, what happens if those symptoms of burnout that you're feeling are because of a lack of self-care? If you just move into that next job and don't really address kind of the root of what's going on, we're just going to replicate that almost crisis moment again, right? So taking pause, and reflecting and allowing kind of the dust to settle, we're able to more clearly define what's going on and get to the root of that concern. When you do move into this next position, again, we're not repeating old habits. 

Coming right back to me, “Well, Megan, I'm still just as bummed.” Well, the reality was, you weren't sleeping, okay, and we didn't fix the sleeping concern. So no matter what job you take, you're not going to show up healthy and rested, because you're not taking care of yourself. So kind of pause. 

Dr. Lisa: That idea that if you don't work on yourself, you will, even subconsciously, wind up replicating the same sorts of patterns. Again, I'm thinking of relationships right now. That people have an influence on their environments, and a lot of times without even realizing it. You're saying that people could do that in their career, and you were talking about self-care, but I'm sure there's ways of thinking and feeling and ways of communicating and ways of leading and productivity stuff. 

Megan: Well, and when I'm talking about that exercise metaphor, right, of are we flexing and exercising, self-reflection, self-awareness? The ability to just name where we're at. If we're not kind of checking in on some of those core—I would call them, soft skills that are really important for being a successful employee, or being a successful human being, shoot. We're going to jump the gun. If we don't really spend some time working on those things and getting those muscles strong. Because inevitably, and I tell a lot of my clients this, you're going to end up right back with me and that's okay, I love spending time with you, and I want to make you a self-sufficient, self-sustaining human being, who if and like when you reach these career transitions again, you kind of pull your tool belt back on. 

You've got your strong muscles, and you get to do the work yourself because you already know how to do this. Instead of kind of letting it get to that negative almost crisis point where self-care has gone out the window and burnout symptoms are happening everywhere. We want to prevent that, preemptively, if at all possible. 

Dr. Lisa: Wonderful reminders. Megan, this was such a fabulous conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today.

Megan: Absolutely, this is something I could have all day long.

Dr. Lisa: You're Passionate. 

Megan: That's the best part, because some people are like, “Well, how did you get to where you're at?” I'm like, “If only you knew, there's been a lot of work to get here.” So thank you so much for letting me kind of chat your ear off and just share the world that I feel so comfortable. And I really appreciate it.

Dr. Lisa: Thank you again, Megan.

Well, you guys, I don't know about you, but I am feeling so inspired now after talking with Megan. If you are, too, and if you would like to talk to Megan, you can cruise on over to growingself.com to learn more about her. I know that she has a couple of wonderful articles up on our blog right now, at growingself.com. You can take advantage of those and our other online career resources that are all there just for you.

Of course, if you would like to speak with Megan, you can always request a first free consultation and get that party started. So, thank you again for visiting with us today. And I'll be back in touch next week with another episode of the podcast. 

[So Many Things by Aurora D’Amico plays]

How to Relax (When You’re a Type-A Stress-Case)

How to Relax (When You’re a Type-A Stress-Case)

How to Relax (When You're a Type-A Stress-Case)

It's Hard to Relax When You're a Superstar

[social_warfare]

Here at Growing Self our therapy and life coaching clients are generally successful, high-achieving people on a path of personal growth. Because of this, I have a soft spot for the superstars, and I know that being a go-getting, productive, conscientious, high-achieving, intelligent, successful person has many, many benefits. You get things done, you're on top of it, and you are probably extremely successful in many areas of life.

And… it's probably hard for you to relax.

How to Relax When You're an Over-Achiever

Because you are so conscientious and successful you probably do everything you're supposed to. You take vacations, you exercise, you have a healthy diet, and you practice self-care. But it still might feel hard to let yourself truly relax. Even when you're having fun you are thinking about the next thing, and doing “nothing” (as in the Dutch practice of Niksen) feels like a waste of time compared to all the important or goal-directed things you could (probably feel like you should) be doing.

Believe it or not, learning how to relax is a very important life-skill. Just like learning how to manage your emotions, making it a priority to exercise and sleep, managing your finances, having satisfying relationships, practicing good self care, and eating healthy foods, learning how to relax — how to truly relax — is a skill set that is acquired through education and practice.

Real relaxation, the kind that restores you and allows you to be more productive, more creative, more resilient, and happier, is much more than about taking a bath once in a while. Real relaxation requires a high degree of self awareness and commitment, as well as the development of specific internal skills. (Ha! You can always recognize a fellow Type-A over-achiever when they describe relaxation skills as a project — hello my friend.)

Yes, I know from both professional experience in working with extremely successful, high-achieving people as well as from my own personal experience, that being a Type-A superstar has a very real dark side including exhaustion, agitation, anxiety and overwork. Burnout is an experience that many hard working and conscientious people can succumb to if not careful. Without vital relaxation skills, you can start to experience a lack of motivation, tiredness, emotional numbness, and loss of joy and creativity in your day to day life. FYI, “Burnout” is real: It's finally gotten recognized as an occupational phenomenon by the ICD!

The Keys to Authentic Relaxation

Today's episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is just for you, my high-achieving compadre. We'll be discussing:

  • The mind-body connection that makes you feel stressed out even when you're relaxing
  • New ideas to help you prioritize your self-care and relaxation
  • The real source of stress (it's not what you think… except when it is)
  • Why “relaxing” behaviors (massages, hot baths, vacations) won't help you truly de-stress
  • How to combat the stressful thinking styles that will interfere with true relaxation
  • The skills and strategies that will actually help you reduce stress, relax, and restore your mind, body and soul.

I hope this discussion helps you achieve the rest and relaxation that you deserve, and that it helps you (paradoxically) become even more productive, creative, forward-thinking and successful as a result!

From me to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

[social_warfare]

Listen to the Podcast

How to Relax (When You're a Type-A Stress-Case)

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Damian Jurado and Richard Swift, “Hello Sunshine”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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