Why You Can Stop Worrying About Your Career

Time to read: 2:19.26 minutes
At camp, being…well…campy.

At camp, being…well…campy.

This summer, while I was working at my children's summer camp, I offered pro-bono coaching to the staff. After 30-hours of early morning sessions with a group of 19-26-year-olds, I started to notice patterns. Then, when considering my MBA, private and corporate clients, I realized there is an arch to the career journey characterized by age and phase of life. Daily, I hear people worrying about their careers and life choices. My goal today is to reassure you whether this is your first rodeo or your one-hundredth.

(Note: I'm not a huge fan of reducing individual experience to a one-size-fits all label so know that as I share these observations with you, the boundaries are fuzzy, and professional and personal experiences are as unique as you are.)

Age 19 - mid to late 20s: Exploration. If you are in this age group, you are likely laying awake a night worrying that you don't know what you want to be or if you should marry the guy or dump him, or if you will ever be able to afford a house. These early years of career development are fraught with worry and doubt.

My message? Have fun! Explore! Try some stuff. Work at a ski resort. Deliver pizza in New Zealand. Apprentice yourself to that scientist in the woods. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age 25 - late 20s (or if you're like me, early 30s): Roots. If you are here, you are starting to wonder about settling down. Living in one place starts to seem more attractive than seasonal employment and traveling all the time. Not surprisingly, as your perspective shifts, you start to find potential life partners. You might be hungry to get a career started and work, work, work. This is a great age to be a consultant or to have a job with lots of travel. You might be worrying if you are ready for commitments and responsibility.

My message? Embrace the change in perspective. Put down those roots. Make choices. If you're chomping at the bit to work, then work. Nothing is set in stone. You can always change direction. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age mid-30s to mid to late 40s: Complexity. Before this phase, you think you understand your priorities (career!). Then you have kids. Or your parents get sick. Or you get laid off. Or something else interrupts your perfect plan. Life gets complex, and your priorities start to shift again. If you are in this phase, you are likely worrying if you have invested too many years in the wrong job or if you should stay home with your children or if you will ever get that promotion or if you should try for an overseas assignment or if you are saving enough for retirement.

My message? Get back in touch with your values. Learn to live with increasing uncertainty. Be intentional in your choices. Make choices. Don't just stumble along doing what you think you're supposed to. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age late 40s to late 50s or early 60s: Confidence. If this is you, you likely care a lot less what people think. You're clearer about your gifts and are using them in the world. If you are a career professional, you've developed a level of expertise - even if that expertise spans many different specific job descriptions (like me). You're getting wiser. And calmer. Some things may be shaken up or re-negotiated - divorce, kids getting older, getting reconnected to past hobbies and interests. You might worry if you even remember who you are anymore.

My message? Get close with your gifts. Don't be afraid to be brave about necessary life changes. Own what you love. Be who you are. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Mid to late 60s and 70s. Letting go. I rely on dear friends and mentors for anything I know about this phase. If you're here, your relationship to work as you've known it is shifting. You're excited about the prospect of well-earned freedom even as you worry about your identity and can't wait to purge your house. For some, the temptation to cling to a professional identity over-powers the potential expansion of possibilities making the transition to this powerful phase of life more difficult.

My message? Keep going! Have fun! Embrace the possibilities of a newly wide-open playing field. Invest your energy in the things that are most important to you.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Here's your challenge: Can you can find the point of this article?

Rebel love to you!

Christina

P.S. Do you have a friend who is fretting about one of these career phases? Share the love with them by forwarding this email. They can sign up to join us right here.

 

5 Ways to Be an Awesome Newbie!

Time to read: Just under one little minute. You have errands to run!

Now this is new: S'mores ice-cream cone with GLITTER!

Now this is new: S'mores ice-cream cone with GLITTER!

OMG. Has summer already ended? If you have kids starting school and even if you don't, can you feel that fall, back-to-school energy? Things feel more serious. Like we're all settling in and getting back to a routine.

My kids started a new school on Monday. They know no one and believe me, this Corporate Rebel Mama's heart has been very tender this week. We have lots of rebels starting new ventures like new jobs (hey Rick!) or living in new locations (shout out to you, Audrey!) or experimenting with new ways to do old jobs (Dean!).

There is newness in the air!

New possibilities.

A new start. (Even if you're in the same job, in the same company.)

A new year.

As we get to know the new community and routine at our new school, I'm noticing a few things that are helping me through these tender days. I share them with you as you embark on your new fall. Here are 5 ways to be new:

  1. Have a sense of adventure. Rather than focusing on all the things you don't have or can't do, lean into the adventure of a new job, project or school with all the fascination, wonder, and curiosity you would bring to an international vacation.
  2. Be humble. In our new school, I know very little about how things work. It's a steep learning curve and for a woman who is used to knowing everything that's going on, it's humbling to be at the beginning again. Stopping in humility every so often in your life is a very good thing. It's a great reset button to remind you to keep learning.
  3. Be open. Be open to new relationships and experiences. You have no idea where an opportunity or new friend is going to come from.
  4. Ask for help. Many times, you won't even have to ask. Help will just be available to you. In either case, be humble and take advantage of it.
  5. Stay in your discomfort zone. It's ok to be uncomfortable. In fact, it's marvelous to be uncomfortable. In the discomfort, you stretch. You learn new things about yourself. You discover new opportunities. And it will pass. Believe me, I'm uncomfortable a lot these days.

So, welcome to fall, beautiful rebels. Feels like it's going to be a smashing year!

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. As part of doing lots of new things this fall, I am going to be interviewed on the What's NEXT webcast with Jason Lauritsen. He's interviewing leaders who bring innovation and positive disruption to the workplace - like me! The webcast is September 5 at 1:00 ET. It will be recorded if you can't make the event live. Join here and invite your friends. They are welcome to join, too!

 

3 Hot Tips for Spring Cleaning

Time to read: So you have more time to clean off your desk, this will take 1 minute and 10 seconds to read!

Junk, er, treasures for my friend's thrift store

Junk, er, treasures for my friend's thrift store

Hello Rebels!

You may be wondering, "why the heck is she talking about spring cleaning on the Corporate Rebel?" Good question with a good answer:

  1. It's spring! Celebration time! Do you really need another reason to purge your closet?
  2. Even though I don't sell a purging and organization service, I'm a nut for the subject... like... I read books about decluttering, advise my friends on how to clean off their desks, and use the chance to clean off our stairs as a reward for doing my work. (Guess where I'm headed after writing this newsletter?)
  3. With all the new energy of spring, it's time to clean out the cobwebs and the junk that has piled up all winter. Literally and figuratively.
  4. I am a strong believer that purging out old stuff clears stale energy and invites fresh juju for inspiration and creating in your work and life. (Remember how much you want to put work and life on your terms? Don't let your crap hold you back!)

Here are my three favorite ways for getting the s&*% out:

  1. Make a game (I'm serious here) of getting rid of stuff. If you can only fit so many mugs on the shelf, some of them must go.
  2. Fundraise. Choose a cause to donate to or something you want to do with the money. Then channel your inner 12-year-old into raising the money by selling the stuff you're unloading. My son's old clothes are going to buy an apple tree.
  3. Choose a destination for your stuff. If you know your donations are going to a refugee family or to help someone learn work skills, you will dig deeper and purge more.
  4. OK, I said three tips. You get four. Purge a little at a time. Nothing kills the fun more than the urgent and stressful feeling that you have to clean out every closet this Saturday!

So, what will you purge to open space for your inspiration and creation? I'd love to see a photo of your pile of crap. As always, you can hit reply to this email to share!

Happy de-cluttering.

Christina

P.S. If you have a friend or colleague who needs to purge their junk, forward these tips to them. They can join the Corporate Rebel party right here.

 

Do You Wish For a Free Lunch? You Can Have It!

Mmmmm…..lunch!

Mmmmm…..lunch!

You've heard the adage, "there's no such thing as a free lunch," right?

IMHO this is a rather cynical perspective that there is an ulterior motive behind acts of generosity and kindness, especially from a corporation. I am happy to report that there actually is a free lunch, literally. And I'm going to help you find your free lunch, even if it doesn't come in the form of food.

I am coaching and doing team development for a company that actually offers free lunch. For all their employees. Like, you walk into their cafeteria and fill your plate with fresh salad, hot soup, entrees and soft serve ice cream. As much as you want, for FREE. I've never seen anything like it in all my corporate years!

Munching on some delicious chicken salad got me thinking about you.

Sometimes it's hard to see the free lunch that is right in front of you. I know. I know. Some of you are going to write to me and say that you pay for your "free lunch" with your time and talent. (I count on hearing from you!)

Of course, you do. That is the employment contract. You work. We pay you.

Consider this: You can choose to see the benefits of that contract through a lens of scarcity and cynicism (i.e. what you don't get, what you deserve and are not getting, how you are stuck) or you can see it from generosity and gratitude (i.e. how your life is easier, "I can't believe I get _____!" How you are always free to make a different choice.)

Here are some contenders for your free lunch. See if one of these is yours or sparks your gratitude cells:

  • You can visit the doctor whenever you want because you have health insurance. Even better if the company covers your family. (As someone who was self insured for many years, I can tell you the free lunch of insurance is pretty awesome.)
  • You have the flexibility to leave the office for appointments or your child's holiday pageant.
  • You get to work out during the day.
  • You get bonuses or spot awards or cool little gifts for years of service.
  • Paid professional development.
  • Affinity groups.
  • Great colleagues.
  • Collaboration.
  • Making a contribution in your industry.
  • Selling a product and/or service that brings people pleasure and/or changes lives.

Sometimes in the bustle and stress of working life, it's easy to stop seeing the generous and kind things that happen to you every day. What free lunch is right in front of you?

Have a great week!

Christina

P.S. If you love the Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and Newsletter, please share it with some friends. Next week you'll get an interview with a woman who will show you how easy it is to live and work from pure joy, even when things are hard. Your friends can join our merry little tribe here.

 

Life Advice From Your Tribe!

I've been looking for an excuse to use this picture!

I've been looking for an excuse to use this picture!

Last summer, I spent three weeks in North Carolina working at my children's summer camp. (Apropos of nothing, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the child-produced camp newspaper, The Tajar Times. So fun!)

While at camp, I offered pro bono coaching to anyone who wanted it. I spent many hours coaching people in their 20s who were angst ridden over questions like, "Should I marry the guy or dump him?" "I got a degree in a field I HATE!" "Do I take this job or travel through Europe?"

I also solicited advice from the Corporate Rebel tribe and posted the following list on the staff bulletin board. Many, many young people read it and told me the advice was astute and helpful. I came across this list recently, and your advice was soooooo good, I'm sharing it here with all of you.

Enjoy!

From Nick:

  1. Stretch every day.
  2. Read. A lot.
  3. Make time to explore the world. It's fascinating.

From Alastair:

Your dreams remain. Keep them top of mind even when 20 years of reality hasn't quite worked as you thought. Keep them present, and they will guide you.

I didn't.

Through coaching and refocusing, things I thought were lost to career "diversions" are now more present than they ever were before. Shocking really. But it speaks volumes toward a few things.

  1. Never give up hope.
  2. Accept that the original dream is still there but may manifest differently and in ways you can't yet imagine.
  3. Embrace variety beyond what you envisioned.
  4. Listen to your inner voice and be true to it.

So forgive yourself right now for not always knowing. Who does? And pause and listen to yourself. What do you want? Truly.

Know this - life is short. So relax, lean into your life, enjoy and focus.

From Anne

It is never too early to put your self-care first. Don't get immersed in baggage piling on your head.

Deal with issues, learn new skills, add them to your toolbelt and move on. Don't be a people pleaser. Be a YOU pleaser! Build your plate your way, set boundaries and know that it is okay to say no. Set boundaries and keep them.

With rebel love,

Christina

 

Do You Hate It When People Tell You How You Feel?

Time to read: 1 little minute and 15 tiny seconds

My corporate campsite this week.

My corporate campsite this week.

Do you hate it when people tell you how you feel?

Let me begin with a little story then tell you what to do when someone inaccurately insists you must be feeling something you are not.

I'm at a client site this week doing 2 intense days of back to back private coaching for a big corporation followed by a third day of team building sessions. When I return home, I head to another big corporation to coach all day in their women's leadership program. When I tell people about my week, they say, "that must be exhausting!",

When I hear that, I'm like, "hmmmmm….," or I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed because other people's opinions can muddy the water and make it hard to listen to your own feelings and trust your own experience. With their suggestion, you might start to wonder, "Am I exhausted? Maybe I should be."

By becoming aware when other people are imposing how you should feel, you can commit to listen to and trust how you actually feel.

Here's how to do that:

  1. Check in with yourself. When you hear a suggestion for how you should feel, use it as a reminder to pause and check in. How are you feeling? Is there something you need to express, process alone, or adjust? What will get you on track with where you want to be?
  2. Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself. Are you telling stories that are empowering or disempowering? Is telling yourself that you are exhausted or overwhelmed enabling you to be your best self and do your best work or is it sapping your energy?
  3. Choose your feelings. You get to decide if you are exhausted, overwhelmed or frustrated. The circumstances don't dictate your feelings, and other people's suggestions certainly don't. It is true that I may be tired when I get on the plane to go home, and while doing the work, I choose to be energized and inspired by my clients.
  4. Clarify. If you want to, you can clarify how you really feel to the person who is asking. Assume they care about you and had the best of intentions when they made their comment. Something like, "actually, I love these clients and get in the zone when I do back-to-back coaching."
  5. Get curious. If you notice yourself "suggesting" feelings to others, get curious. Instead of telling them how they feel, ask, "How do you feel about that?" You might be surprised by what you learn and amused to see the assumptions you make, too.

I hope this helps!

Christina

P.S. Are there people to whom you'd like to give a big, fat hint? Use this email to tell them to stop suggesting how you should feel! They can join to receive this newsletter right here.

Hungry to play a more strategic role at work?

Read time: 1:56.87 minutes

I coach MBAs in career planning and leadership development at the University of Minnesota. If you are an MBA or one of your friends is one, you know they are determined to advance their careers as fast as possible. When I worked in Human Resources for a major medical device manufacturer, MBAs would come into my office on a somewhat regular basis and say something to this effect:

“I’ve been here for 6 months. How come I haven't been promoted to vice-president?”

Now, you don’t have to be an MBA to crave a role where you get to set strategic vision, manage a large team, and be included in the exciting and confidential things that happen in those rooms with big conference tables. You don't even have to want to be a people manager to want to play a strategic part in your company.

The question is how do you prepare yourself for a higher-level strategic role?How do you make sure you are the one who is considered for the next promotion? How do you plan your career so you end up where you want to be, no matter the level?

The truth: patience is key.

Also key: visibility, your relationships, seeking new challenges, demonstrating your growth mindset, and finding a mentor.

Here's what I mean:

  1. Visibility: Toot your own horn. I know, it feels vain to do so. And you must. No one is paying attention to your accomplishments like you are. Make sure those with the ability to influence your career know what you can do.
  2. Relationships: Most opportunities come through relationships, from people who know, trust, and respect you. Make sure lots of people know, trust and respect you by growing and maintaining your network.
  3. Seek new challenges: Keep your eyes open for ways to get involved in the hot strategic initiatives for your company. (This is also good for your relationships.)
  4. Growth mindset: Be someone who supports change and progress. Never let the words, "that's the way we've always done it," fall from your lips. (I mean this so seriously that I've said it for 2 weeks in a row!)
  5. Find a mentor: Work with someone who has a broad perspective, who values what you value, and who is a few steps ahead of you on the career path.

These 5 steps will have you on the path toward strategic influence in your job whether you are a business analyst or a vice-president.

Good luck!

Warmly,

Christina

P.S. Will you do me a favor and share The Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and newsletter with your friends and colleagues? Just forward this link (http://unplugged.thecorporaterebelseries.com) to them. I can't wait for you to see the first interview on November 30th! (You don't need to sign up. It will come as part of your regular subscription to my newsletter. Bonus!)