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.

 

Do You Dread Bad News?

My little bunnies many years ago.

My little bunnies many years ago.

When you apply for a new job, go for a promotion or put your hat into the ring for something you really, really, want, do you lie awake at night worrying, "What if I get bad news?"

I'm in this exact spot, and this week I realized there may be no such thing as bad news. Wouldn't that be awesome? Here's what I mean...

My daughter is heading to high school next year, and my son has decided to consider joining her at a new school. This means they have applied to a number of places, and we have waited MONTHS to find out if they are admitted. We find out this week. (I'm doing lots of yoga and meditation to stay calm as the minutes tick by.)

Yesterday a friend commented that she hopes we don't get the "bad letter." When I heard those words, something in me clicked and my nerves calmed the heck down.

There really is no possible "bad letter" that could arrive this week. They will either be admitted or they won't. You will either get the job or you won't. Those are the simple facts. It's the story that you make up about the facts that causes the late-night worrying. Try these on:

"If I don't get the promotion, it's because I'm not respected by senior management."

"If I don't get this job, it was my last chance and my career will stall, and I'll eventually be homeless."

"If my kids don't get into this school, then…. what?….Their lives are over? They are destined for a horrible high school experience? Their future is in jeopardy?"

Can you see how ridiculous this thinking is?

The arrival of supposed "bad" news, is simply the arrival of additional information. And with that information you make your next choice. Do you stay at the company or move on? Do you do something different in your job search or try again? Do you retool your skills so you are better qualified next time?

The fact of the matter is that things always turn out. Something always results, and you are always ready to handle whatever it is, even if it's painful. My children will go to high school. You will have opportunities if you want them. They are growing into amazing people. You are an amazing person. That's what matters.

So, you (and I) can let go of the fear of the "bad" letter and know that all you have to do is be ready to make your next move.

So simple.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. I'd love it if you'd share this post with your colleagues, friends and family. Word of mouth is the best way to spread good stuff. Your friends can sign up here to get the a weekly dose of insight, wisdom, and good humor to make them happier and more fulfilled at work (and in life).

 

What's the right response to everything that's happening?

Estimated read time: Les than one minute.

unnamed (2).png

It's been avoiding sitting down to write this newsletter. What does someone who writes about work have to say about the tragic events of the past week?

Do you ever feel like things are so big and complex and wonder where to find your contribution? I do, and it exhausts me sometimes. Like today.

I'm going straight to the point.

The human world is driven by two forces, love and fear. Love can feel like the harder option because it requires vulnerability, openness, risk, and courage.

Love is the only option, and love belongs at work.

Here's your challenge. You are a leader. Leaders take responsibility for their worlds. Leaders take care of their people. Go find some people and take care of them. This week put love into your world every day, especially at work.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Bring coffee to your officemates, especially the ones you don't like.
  • Let the person in front of you merge into traffic.
  • Leave an extra tip for your server.
  • Pay for someone's meal at the cafeteria. Even better if it's a stranger.
  • Call a colleague you'd honestly rather just email.
  • Tell your boss what you appreciate about him/her. Even better, do it in writing.

Each action you take this week, at work and at home, ask yourself if you are coming from love or fear. Then choose love. The impact on the greater world will be tremendous.

In love,

Christina

P.S. If you know someone who would like to receive this newsletter, they can sign-up for The Corporate Rebel Video Podcast and Newsletter HERE.

A humbling look behind the scenes!

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

The official production studio for the Corporate Rebel Series (note the requisite Nerf blasters and penguin audience)

The official production studio for the Corporate Rebel Series (note the requisite Nerf blasters and penguin audience)

The Corporate Rebel Series is finally on its way! Alleluia, praise baby Buddha, thank you, universe!

The truth is I feel so vulnerable having this series out there that I can hardly breathe.

Today, I want to pull back the curtain to show you what it's been like on the inside so you can see that:

  1. I struggle with the same things you do.
  2. You can see what's possible when you face your fear, make a commitment to something big, and keep moving.

Sound like a plan?

First, the Corporate Rebel Series required me to face my fears.

In order to create this series, I had reach out to people I didn't know and ask them to be part of it. (Even for an extrovert like me, this was terrifying.)

I spent 2 weeks hitting send on email after email (139 to be exact). There were people who seemed so big and so important, I couldn't bring myself to contact them. With the encouragement of my friends, I finally did. Many of them said yes! (Amazing people like Ann Betz, Dr. Ron Friedman, and Henry Kimsey-House are part of the series.)

After 39 emails and 5 live conversations, the next hundred got easier.

Second, this project has required me to stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of.

I had to figure out ethernet, learn to edit videos, conquer YouTube, and handle Skype glitches. (I'm no tech wizard.) I had to stay focused so my children continued to get to school and our dog got walked. I even managed one tea date with a friend and talked to my husband on occasion.

Then there was the &%#@$* opt-in video (the one on the sign up page. You can see it here). I've never done anything with video and certainly, nothing that was going to be public. I recorded about 100 takes, took the feedback from my coach, and did 100 more.

And then as soon as the #$&%*$ video was live, one of my best friends called to say it "sucked." After wondering for an hour if I should get a new best friend, my BFF and I re-recorded the video and now it feels like me.

Know what I discovered? I can handle the technology. I can put a video into the world. I can plunk a huge project into an already full life and still keep the wheels mostly on the bus.

Third, working on this series has forced me to let go of any illusion of perfection.

There are a couple of glitchy interviews. A broken link in an email? Yep, have that. Hair sticking out - got it. Dog whining at the door during an interview? Yes, that, too. Sucky opt-in video? Check!

Action over perfection is the mantra that got me through. (Feel free to steal that one.)

Fourth, I had to face rejection.

People declined to participate. I survived.

Fifth, the Corporate Rebel Series has reinforced that the world is a good place, people are generous, and all you have to do is ask.

Putting together this series has been like a giant scavenger hunt. Even the most famous experts, the ones I was afraid to contact, are lovely, normal people. They are thrilled to help and to be part of something that supports our mutual mission to make the world of work better for the people who go there everyday.

I have been surrounded by guardian angels who share their feedback honestly and love me enough to tell me the truth.

Their generosity has been inspiring.

The Corporate Rebel Series has grown legs. With each speaker, an ecosystem has developed of people who care deeply about the work we do and how we can bring heart and sanity to our workplaces. Now, the series is running on its own and the audience is gathering.

A number of people have asked me where this is headed. The truth is, I have no idea. At this point, I'm along for the ride and having a blast.

And I'm ready for a few more tea dates.

Christina

P.S. If you know someone who would like to receive this newsletter, they can sign-up for The Corporate Rebel Video Podcast and Newsletter HERE.

My ugly story and what you can learn from it

Estimated read time: An entertaining and real 1.75 minutes.

Photo of my brain on fear, courtesy of Anne Lippin.

Photo of my brain on fear, courtesy of Anne Lippin.

I hired a coach this year to stretch me in my business. In our first meeting, she did exactly what I asked her to do. She stretched me. How did I respond?

I freaked out.

This wasn’t just a little bitty, genteel lady freak out, either. It was like my vital organs were going to fall out of my body. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t work. I was thinking about giving up the whole coaching gig for a job at Whole Foods.

I was in a bad way and even as I laid on my couch crying to my friends, I was thinking of you and hoping to glean some redeeming value from my misery. Here's the value:

When you stretch yourself – you go for the big promotion, you take on the leadership role, you say the risky thing in a meeting, you hire a coach – you are going to feel afraid. If you’re not afraid, you’re not stretching.

I imagine you’re thinking, “Great. You’re telling me I have to feel like my insides are going to fall out?”

Yup. That’s exactly right. If you want to go big, you will be afraid sometimes and fear shows up in your body before your head can catch up. That’s a fact. The good news is there is a lot you can do about it.

Here are my hot tips, hard won from the couch:

  1. Having periods of doubt and fear are part of the journey. A vital part of the journey. Through them you learn valuable things about yourself, develop more capacity, and know what it's like later to feel great!
  2. Recognize your process. When faced with fear, some of my clients get overly analytical, apathetic, or avoidant. Recognize if panic (my favorite!) is a place you stop on your way to clarity and action. When your process is familiar, you can celebrate the freak out and know it’s an important stepping stone to your success.
  3. Remember that you will not be stuck here forever. As your self awareness grows, you’ll be stuck in fear less often and for shorter periods of time.
  4. Have your self care plan ready to go at all times. Mine involves a book, the couch, and my dog. Oh, and calling a bunch of friends. And meditating. And crying.

It’s not about preventing the freak out which is a good thing as that's impossible. It’s about recovering from it. Fear is a sign of growth. What you need is awareness, a self-care strategy, and you're ready to go.

Be afraid and keep going!

Christina

P.S. If you know someone who would like to receive this newsletter, they can sign-up for The Corporate Rebel Video Podcast and Newsletter HERE.