Posts tagged career change
Hit the Road Jack

I spent too much of my life at a job in a place that never wanted me, didn't appreciate me, who resented me even. Why did I stay so long in an environment that brought me down?

Looking back I should have left so many years earlier. I allowed the unhealthy workplace to eat away at my self-esteem, to make me question my worth, to make me feel as if I wasn't enough.

I should have walked out the first week, the first time I was demeaned by a coworker who thought they should be my boss. The first time I was pushed to tears. I don't do well with meanness, I never have, and I should have known if it happened to me on the first week of the job, it wasn't going to be an isolated event.

It continued to happen in little ways, and in big ways for 12 years. And I am sad to say, I let it. I should have walked away, dared to do something different, but I kept trying to fit in, to make it work, to fix it. It was a great place "on paper", and the job was something I could do and do well, and I loved the flexibility in my schedule. But it wasn't worth what I lost there. Underneath the pretend, I knew I wasn't welcomed by all, and trying to please, trying to prove my worth and be seen as valuable to those who would never care, was a huge waste of my precious energy.

Underneath the company's "make sure we look good from the outside" facade, was an inside filled with a good old boys network that I would never fit into. Women were second class citizens who did a lot of the work and who management allowed to be bullied by a small group of unhappy, negative male employees.

A leader, by dismissing his employees complaints or avoiding the awkward conversations to handle the inequities, in essence condones the bad behavior and allows the unfair, inappropriate bullying to continue to happen. Over time this creates an apathetic, unhealthy, unmotivated group of employees, led by the meanest of the mean. Any responsible, conscientious, highly sensitive person cannot survive unscathed working in a company with all that negative energy.

It certainly took a toll on me.

I stayed so long for several reasons; because I was scared to go elsewhere, because the flexibility of the schedule worked so well for me, and maybe deep down I wanted to prove them wrong.  I thought if I tried hard enough, they'd see my value. Therein was my biggest problem. Looking for value and recognition outside of yourself is always a recipe for disaster. No matter how great I tried to be, I was never going to hear what I wanted to hear from the management in that company, and it wore me down trying. I became anegative, critical, angry, overly sensitive shell of myself.

I am much stronger now, after several years away from that toxicity and lots of personal growth work. I was able to gain back my positivity, and my self-worth. Deep down I am still the same person I always was, but I now have confidence from within in my abilities and in myself again. If I were to have started at this place in my present state of mind, I would never have hung on so long. I would more than likely have never signed up to work there in the first place.

If life has you feeling negative, stuck, angry, sad, or numb -- take a look at it from all angles. Creating your ideal life is up to you. What situation in your life is dragging you down or making you feel you have lost your personal power? There is always a way out. Take it. You don't have to justify it to your parents, your siblings, your co-workers, or anyone else -- and don't let the naysayers tell you you can't just do what you love. They are the most stuck and will say things like that to keep you stuck as well. You can do what you love to do, if you dare.

It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else when you make changes to improve your life. If you feel the need to take a demotion, change your job or your career, say goodbye to a relationship that just isn't meant to be, or sell your huge house and live simpler, then give yourself permission to do it right now. The world will not see the full version of you, until you do. 

You have the reigns, you control the speed of your life and you choose where you work, who you stay with, where you live, and how you live. Stop listening to the advice of others who see your life from the outside as a completely different life than the one it feels like you are living inside. Shift that energy, disrupt the status quo and create your ideal life. I learned in the process that I was making life much harder than it had to be, by trying to change a broken system, to fit in where I wasn't meant to.

You deserve to be lifted up, not beaten down by the people surrounding you.  A good person, with good intentions, who has natural talent and deep sensitivity can find work or love or whatever you seek, but only if you trust in your own inner wisdom to lead the way.

Take that leap. Life is so much sweeter on the positive side.

Bye Bye Perfectionist

A couple of times recently I have been reminded that my life, my transformation back into the real me, is publicly out there on this blog when people I barely know have either asked me about it, commented on it, or referred to it. I am thrilled people have read parts of it and are intrigued enough to have questions. My whole journey began by writing it out. When I first yearned for something "more" in my life, I wasn't even sure what I was missing, I found myself writing it all out in a blog. It helped me organize my thoughts and uncover some of the feelings I was hiding deep.

It is also no secret one of my bucket list items is to write a book about my journey and what I have learned. Not to tell people "how" to do it, but to lead by example and encourage anyone they can change if they want to. My path will not ever be your path, yet some of the steps I took might help you. My roadblock seems to be in knowing how I should take what I have already written,  add in some additional thoughts, and combine them both into a book worth reading. I have always said I was a better editor than writer, but that seems not to be true in my own case.

How did I change my life? How did I transform from a rigid, unforgiving, perfectionistic, planned control freak into a freer, happier, live (a little more) in the moment me? It took a lot of inner work to shut down my inner critic, make some life (work) changes, step out of my comfort zone, and face my fear of failure head on. It took patience and trust and it took letting myself fall to rock bottom before I could see the way out. Maybe I should ask those who lived through it with me, to lend their perspectives? People I worked with, my husband, my children, my best friends. A lot of my most difficult work came from the inside. Because from the outside I faked it pretty well to those who didn't really know me. I was rarely a hot mess despite what was happening on the inside and was okay to have around (even if I was controlling) because I took charge and made things happen, running things smoothly and efficiently was my skill. But those who knew me well could see that on the flip side I was a fun sucker, lacked spontaneity and had a hard time deviating from my plan. I am determined NOT to be a fun sucker anymore. Ever.

I am still organized (in a lot of areas), that hasn't changed. And probably never will. But I know that once I quieted my inner mean voice, I found a softer side of me. I no longer want to watch life from my safe bubble, but to get down and dirty in it. To have some fun. To live in the moment. To stumble and fall, and get back up to try again. To allow myself to experience life and (if that means being the hot mess I once avoided at all cost once in while) then          so be it.

If I can change, I know if you really want to, you can too.

If you run from quiet, still, alone time, or find yourself easily bored when you do, you might be the perfect candidate to start where I did, with yoga. To me yoga is a moving meditation which uses breathing to bring a person into the present moment and put them back in touch with their body. It helped me stop overthinking, calmed my spirit and reconnected me with the inner wisdom I need to thrive. It reconnected me with 'me'. As I grow, my yoga practice grows with me. I have accepted that I will never be perfect and understand there is no "right" way to do a pose, only my way. Clearly yoga has helped me loosen up more than my hamstrings!

Your path will not be mine, but yoga is a great starting point for anyone. You may cross it off the list after trying it, or you may find like I did, that it can be a much needed lifeline to help guide you toward greater happiness and purpose. I'm teaching this summer -- ready to join me?



Crying for all the Right Reasons

Is your check engine light on? Mine sure was. A few months ago mine clicked on, and stayed on.Thankfully I paid attention to it.

I recognized that something was not right. I was crying. A lot. At work, while driving in the car, when I got home from work, and even in the middle of the night. I would wake up, begin tossing and turning, and the silent tears would start.

"What the heck is wrong with me?" I wondered.  Was I for the first time in my life depressed? Was I going through some kind of mid-life crisis? Was I sick? Or was the new job I had taken on, too much for me?

Why were tears so close to the surface all the time?

I was most concerned about the tears I shed at work. To me they were awkward and a deeper sign of a problem --- they felt like tears of frustration and dissatisfaction, but they came across to others as complaining. It bothered me that I couldn't seem to control them whenever I got passionate about an idea or a situation where I needed help with a  solution. What I thought needed to be done, and what I saw that needed fixing, wasn't as important to others. So not only did it feel like no one was listening, it felt like they thought I was trying to fix things for all the wrong reasons. Like I was being selfish.

I am pretty sure the stomach ache I had constantly was an early form of an ulcer. The ache grew from a sense of misalignment that even I didn't clearly see -- until many months later, after I had time to reflect. All I knew was that I couldn't seem to get away from the stress. And the stress seemed to be felt only by me.

At the time I had no idea that emotion in the workplace is not only normal, but helpful. Generally workplace tears represent anger or frustration at something that isn't right, more than they represent negativity and overall sadness. Check out this video from Anne Kreamer, Author of It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace.


Some interesting things I have since come to learn about emotion in the workplace:

•The person crying is almost always embarrassed and wishes they weren’t crying. •The most professional response is to hand the person crying a box of tissue and continue the conversation. The worst thing you can do is to make a big deal of the tears, or to withdraw from the conversation and stop talking to the person, making them feel worse. •The person crying is often a person who has a lot invested in their work, or who is experiencing something in the workplace that goes against their personal values. It’s very important to listen and to ask a lot of questions to determine the source of the frustration. •Dig a little. The first explanation for the emotion may not be the real one. It might only be the most recent one. •Don’t see tears as weakness or negativity. They are very simply someone's reaction to strong emotions.

It is important for the person doing the crying and the manager (or whomever is observing the tears), to move through the emotion and get to heart of the matter. Too many managers, especially men, feel really uncomfortable and guilty when tears are present. They hurry the tears and attempt to alleviate the distress. What is really needed is to connect deeply with the person crying, and to  listen to what they are truly saying. That will build both trust and respect, and give you a good insight into the things that might be out of balance.

It was only after I made the decision to quit my job that I found this video. And with time and distance, things began to make sense to me.

I was crying for all the right reasons. I was in the wrong job (for me) and no amount of effort was going to fix that. And until I removed myself from the internal stress I was feeling, my tears were going to continue; at work, at home, in the car, in the middle of the night --- everywhere.

If you find yourself crying a lot ( especially at work), it might be time to give your check engine light a look.