separating who you are from what you do

Separating Your Identity from Work

Separating who you are from what you do is the dream result of healing an unhealthy relationship with work. And for me, it was a lengthy and sometimes complicated journey to get here. In an effort of honesty and a practice in imperfection, I’m going to level with you here and say that I still struggle with untangling my identity from my job (even my job as a coach or writer) from who I am. If I’m being realistic I know that what I do to make money is a part of my identity – to me the important part is knowing that it is only a small part of who I am. My identity cannot rely on my career regardless of how much I enjoy it. 

After years of working on separating my identity from what I do I am proud to say that I know that I am whole, unique and amazing without it (I just also need money to live because capitalism really does run the world). My jobs enable me to live a life that fulfills me and I can live with that. So now I want to help you get there (if that’s where you want to go..if not I would suggest skipping this blog). 

Disclaimer – I did NOT go to med school 

Before we continue any further I want to remind you that I am not a mental health professional. I am a life and career coach. These tips, tricks and ideas are just what has worked for me and my clients. As always your life decisions are your own so take what resonates and leave what doesn’t! 

Work Life Boundaries 

Whether you are a remote worker or in the physical office, setting boundaries with when you start and end your day is extremely helpful. My mindset around work shifted when I realized that after a certain time it was ok to check out, walk away and leave the project for another day. Everything cannot be urgent and by building out boundaries around when I came in, left or stayed online, I began to find balance and a sense of calm in my work. 

One of the work life boundaries I set was that I did not start my day before 8am. Another was that I had to take lunch for at least 30 minutes everyday and WALK AWAY FROM MY DESK. A third was that I had to honor appointments with myself meaning that if I scheduled a workout, break or time off I took the time to do those.

Speaking of workouts I also encourage prioritizing movement as a way to signal to your body that its physical and mental wellbeing is more important than work. So many of us spend so much time sitting and our poor bodies pay the price. To help with that I will do 5-10 minute yoga flows as breaks throughout the day or after work. 

Another way to work on your work life boundaries is to find a hobby, interest or habit worth upholding your boundaries. This can be anything! A few ideas are an exercise class, painting, reading a book or playing video games. Anything that lets you focus on something other than your work. Having hobbies or habits that you enjoy is also a great way to turn off your mind when you think about work outside of work (more on that in the next section). 

Thinking About Work After Hours

If you are anything like me the suggestions above sound great but you cannot turn off your anxious mind outside of work. And if you are like me this may be something that you need to work with a medical professional on – it also may be something that you can find a coping mechanism for on your own (there are no rights and wrongs either way).

My first tip for getting your mind off work and into a relaxing evening is to find an activity or two that you do most days after work to signal to yourself  “no more thinking about work”. For me that looks like closing my laptop, taking my dog out and then doing another non-work related task. For you that might be yoga, screaming off your patio at passing children, showering or taking a nap. I’m not here to judge you and I’m asking you not to judge yourself. The only goal here is to find something that works for you.

My Brain Won’t Shut Up 

Now this habit will build over time but in the interim and on the busy days the work thoughts will still sneak into your brain. Here is what I do to deal with them. 

  1. I notice the thought, I try not to judge it and I say “thanks for being here but you have to go and you don’t get to waste my time” 
  2. I tell myself something to counter the thought like “I trust myself to have done that task correctly and I trust myself to fix it tomorrow if I have not” 
  3. If the thought is persistent I distract myself by tapping into one of my hobbies. I like to use something that makes me use my mind and body so a video game, yoga or a HIIT workout.  

I did this consistently until I got it to stick. It’s a practice of patience, resilience and self-trust. If the thoughts would not go away and it was ruining my evening, sometimes I would just do something about it (if that was an option). If that was not there my back-up plan was to interrogate the thought with some perspective. “Who does this affect?” or “Is this worth worrying about or is worry a work related habit of mine?”. 

A Self-Trust Exercise 

My favorite byproduct of separating my worth from my work was building my self-trust and confidence. By practicing self-trust, knowing that I could handle anything that came up and learning to quiet my inner critic I began to see myself as so much more than my job. And this revelation made my occasional work mistakes less catastrophic for my mental wellbeing. 

As always, I’m here to support! If you want help separating who you are from what you do I’m here to help! You can find a few ways to work with me here. 

interview prep

Interview Red Flags Pt 2

As a career coach I spend a lot of time talking about interviews. As someone who worked in HR I’ve had the privilege and burden of being on both sides of the table when it comes to these horrendously imbalanced conversations. Interviews are awkward, terrifying, annoying and can feel like a wedge driven between you and the job you know you can do. It’s a chance to sell yourself but it’s also not a sales pitch which makes this already annoying conversation style even more nerve wracking. Understanding and helping people navigate this nuance is a big part of what I do as a career coach and it’s why I take every interview offered to me to practice my skills (which makes me an even better coach). 

Throughout the interview process I’ve run across some major interview red flags that I warn my clients about. I’ve already posted a blog post on a few of these. This post is a continuation on my post from last week about interview red flags that have stood out during my countless conversations. Remember this is all from my personal and professional experience so it may or may not resonate with you. Take the tips that apply to you and ignore the ones that don’t.

So without further ado let’s chat through some additional interview red flags! 

24/7 Availability 

One of the most egregious abuses of employer power is asking employees to be available 24/7. This includes expectations to respond to emails immediately regardless of time, time zone or job duties. While this issue isn’t unique to any specific industry I tend to notice it more with start-up tech companies. If a role needs you to always be available it probably isn’t worth it. And if it is an hourly role – run! 

Bait & Switch 

A bait and switch is when you apply for a specific job but when you show up for the interview the job described no longer matches the posting. This can range from minor changes like a schedule shift to unexplained changes in expected pay or benefits. An example of this would be if a role is listed with an exaggerated commission rate. With the rise in remote work I often see job postings that look legitimate but upon further examination are actually recruitment posts for MLMs (and if you need a reason to avoid them check out this blog post). 

Not Selling You on the Job 

My final red flag for you today is when an interviewer doesn’t try to sell you on the job. This is when a job is pitched as busy, stressful, overwhelming or any other adjective that doesn’t make you want to take the job (or continue the interview). This is a red flag because it can mean: 

  1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not engaged or does not care 
  2. The team is so overworked they didn’t prep for the conversation (and you want healthy work life balance) 
  3. They’ve already decided who they want to fill the role with and are waiting on a response from them/completing scheduled interviews with no intent to hire
  4. They really don’t like or understand the role or company 
  5. Or they are just a bad interviewer…

Regardless it is probably best to avoid that role unless it is your dream role. 

In conclusion I want to remind you that you have the power to reject bad job offers, you can end an interview if you feel uncomfortable and you do not have to accept a job just because it is offered to you. It’s cliche but you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. And if you need a mini pre-interview confidence boost, remember that you are selling them your skills, experience and time and they would be lucky to have you. Want to chat about your next interview 1:1? Check out my career coaching options

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

interviews

Red Flags in Interviews

As someone who helps people prepare for interviews, I participate in a lot of interviews. This sounds a little crazy but I take every opportunity offered to me to practice and hone my skills. I quite literally take one for the team on this but I know it makes me a better and more effective coach for my career coaching clients. 

Due to my exposure to interviews from my time in HR and my self-inflicted torture, I have wound up with a lengthy list of interview red flags or warning signs. Today I want to share with you some of the job posting/interview red flags I’ve come across as well as some of my favorite questions to ask in an interview. 

Before you begin, remember these are MY red flags – use your own discernment to see if these apply to you and your life or career goals. 

Work Hard Play Hard or Hustle & Grind

If I see either of those phrases in a job posting it sets off immediate alarm bells. The former is a warning that you will have no work life balance and get invited to too many happy hours after working too long of days. The latter is a warning that you will be held to unrealistic standards of productivity. I personally do not support either of those. 

Working hard is ok but working without boundaries, balance or breaks is a one way ticket to burnout. 

Acting Weird about Pay and Benefits Questions 

Pay is a SUPER important topic and it should not be taboo. Unfortunately money can be a really uncomfortable subject and as the candidate you are often put in the vulnerable position of having to state a number first. While companies are getting better about (or being required to) posting salary information it’s not always immediately available when you apply. When I bring up salary and the company gets cagey or lowballs me I take that as a major red flag that I would not be getting fair or competitive pay in the role. 

Another big red flag is if they don’t have a handle on explaining their benefits package (US specific due to our lack of universal healthcare). 

Politician Answers – Not Answering Your Questions or Refusing to Acknowledge Negatives 

One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is “What is a really good day like in this role and what is a really bad day like in this role?” Occasionally I receive responses to these questions that twist the negatives of the role into a positive. When that happens I assume the team has a toxic positivity problem that they are not acknowledging. I personally take that as a major red flag. Working on a team that can acknowledge struggles and support each other on bad days is important to me. 

And as a bonus here are a couple questions I like to ask in interviews

  1. What is a good day like in this role? What is a bad day like in this role? 
  2. Is this role staying remote? If not, is it possible to make it remote or flex? 
  3. How do you handle mistakes as a team and as a manager? 

One Final Interview Reminder

As a reminder you are allowed to set boundaries around interviews- they can take a lot of energy to power through. Interviews are awkward, they can be uncomfortable and you absolutely have the power to end the conversation the moment you feel uneasy. If you want help preparing for an interview, building your career confidence, setting work life balance boundaries or setting goals please reach out! I’m happy to help you through a coaching session.

Leave me a comment if you want to see more of my interview red flags! 

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

what do you want

How to Ask for what YOU Want this Year

Ready for your first tip of 2021? 

2021 is the year that we are going to ask for what we want! So tell me, what do you want?

Semi easy in concept but when we really start thinking about it, identifying what we want and why we want it can get messy. Do we really want to run a marathon or do we just like the idea of having run a marathon? Do we really want to be a millionaire or do we just want to not worry about money? Are we sure we want to be a doctor or are we just assuming we want to because it’s the only career we have ever considered?

When we start asking ourselves what we ACTUALLY want things get messy. But if we don’t take the time to check in on what we want we may end up with regret about how we spent our short time on this rock. Sure we might run the marathon but if we hate every moment of it what was the point? What were we really looking for from that experience? Can we quit halfway to our goal? 

Sometimes choosing our goals can feel high stakes. Never fear, I’m here to help you make this a little easier on yourself!

It is NOT Ungrateful to Want More 

First, we must be able to let ourselves want! Allowing ourselves to desire can be hard especially since we have spent the majority of our lives being told that we should be grateful for what we have. Gratitude is wonderful, it has a purpose, it is well meaning but we have to be able to be grateful AND desire more at the same time. If not, we may end up stagnant. 

Being demanding, wanting more and having the confidence to ask for it is not ungrateful. Ignore the bs from society telling you to play small. You can be grateful and want more. In fact, I recommend that you be grateful and want more. 

Make a List 

Now that you have let yourself want it’s time to make a list. Just like Santa… but this list is just for you. Literally, no shame, no judgment, no realistic outlooks required. Just a list of whatever you want!

This includes everything from your dream career, home, whatever you want. You can niche this down if you are specifically looking for guidance in your career or you can leave it wide open. Think of anything and everything that you believe would support you or make you happy. Begin asking yourself why you want things as you write them down but don’t overthink it. 

Throw Anything You “Should” Want Away 

After you have that list ready to go it’s time to look it over for any “shoulds”. If you’ve been here for a while you know how I feel about should-ing ourselves. I hate it.

Removing should’s varies by person but one of the ways I do it is to check in with my guts. Instead of getting in my head about the items on my list I start asking myself how my heart feels about the goal. Am I excited? Are there happy butterflies in my stomach? Am I nauseous because it seems like something that will take a lot of work? Does that end goal excite me enough to work through it? 

Be honest with yourself. It is your life. At the end of the day you are the only one who has to look back on what you’ve done and live with the choices. I promise that the authenticity that may be really hard in the moment will pay off in the end. 

Imagine the End Result

After we remove our should’s it’s time to imagine the end result of what we want. Some key questions to ask ourselves: 

How do you feel and what does it look like? The answer to this is going to help you stay motivated. 

Does the end result include expectations that are not connected to items on your list? 

Remove or add items as needed.

Finalize that List

Write up that final list of what you want. All of it. From the career changes to the healthy habits to anything and everything in between. Once you have your list finalized it’s time to pick a goal or two to start working towards. 

Make a Plan 

Finally, now that you know what you want it’s time to start making a plan. May I recommend this blog post about goal setting to get you started? 

Remember, goal setting is fun, change is exciting and going for what we want can be rewarding and HARD. If you get stuck, need help, get lost or just need someone to chat out your next steps with you please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help! Discovery calls are always free. I have some 1:1 monthly coaching spots available and if you need something to work on with your own time check out my in depth goal setting and planning program called WDYW

Ready to go for those goals? I’m so excited to watch you succeed! 

** please do not use this post to replace mental or physical health care from a physician. Always work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health. 

mindset monsters

Meet Your Mindset Monsters

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mindset monsters. These monsters are thoughts that hold me back, the fears that keep me playing small, all the self beliefs that try to keep me “safe” and for a very long time they kept me from even knowing what I wanted to do. Since I’ve come to terms with my mindset monsters I’ve grown immeasurably and I have no plans to stop. But as I’ve ruminated on how they held me back I realized that my mindset monsters aren’t uniquely mine. 

I created a program about facing them and I shared it with all of you. This week that program is on a major sale and to accompany this sale I’m going to share a different monster everyday on my Instagram & Twitter this week. Our monsters include: 

  • Our “What If” Monster
  • Judgmental Jerry
  • Checking in with our gut 

Ready to jump in? Follow along on any of my social media platforms! 

Want to face your mindset monsters head on? Visit my Etsy & enter code 2020Burnout for 50% off 

Let’s find clarity on what you want, on your own time & at your own pace. 

Need someone to work through the program with you? Sign up for a coaching 1:1 & we can chat it out. Discovery calls are always free! Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up!

personal brand

Is Your Personal Brand Holding You Back?

My fear of ruining my personal brand held me back – here’s what I’ve learned from letting that fear go.

I ran my blog for YEARS before I got up the courage to post about it on my personal Facebook and Instagram.

Why? Well, it’s not because I thought the quality was subpar or because I was shy about my writing. The fear of judgement was present but I didn’t fear social rejection – I feared workplace rejection. I was worried that if people saw all of me, the messy part, the human part, the authentic parts, it would hurt my professional image & personal brand. 

I was afraid to claim my art because it might jeopardize my career at the time or future career opportunities. My content didn’t align with the image I thought I had to uphold to be an HR professional. My fear of being unprofessional & my dependency on a “perfect” career held me back. 

Why Are We Worried About Our Personal Brand? 

I am proud to say that in 2019 I got over that. And by this point in 2020 I proudly post about my content on anything and everything. But I think it’s important to ruminate on how my fear of judgement from the workplace kept me from sharing my content earlier. 

In summary, I let my career dictate the success and excitement around a passion project – how awful is that? And I’ve noticed that many of the people I work with do the same thing. Those of us who dabble in the corporate world are constantly conscious of our reputations, how we are being perceived and how those perceptions dictate our potential.

Our personal brands determine our value in the workplace. Personal brand by definition is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perfection or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry or marketplace at large (definition from https://personalbrand.com/definition/

In other words, it’s the confirmation that you are always being judged for how you show up in the professional world – which for perfectionists can be a HORRIBLE weight to carry. 

Personal Brand & Our Relationship with Work 

I think a lot of us treat our jobs like codependent relationships – and that’s by design. It’s no surprise that most of us are afraid to rock the boat – we quite literally rely on our jobs to keep us alive. Our jobs are the keepers of health insurance, basic income, and often our schedules. Depending on the company and culture our jobs may even dictate the relationships we have and what we do in our free time. 

Being “representatives” of a company can make us fearful to post authentically on our personal social media. We end up dragging our LinkedIn persona over to our Instagram or Facebook. We edit out all the human parts and create a boring image of perfection. This isn’t out of a personal desire to be secretive but from the fear that if we are seen holistically we may change someone’s perception of us in a negative way. 

One of the reasons we give our work SO much power is at will employment in the private sector. At will employment means that employers can end your employment at any time. Is it really that simple? No – it’s usually a lot of work on the HR side of things to decide to terminate someone. But does that ease the fear in any employees minds? Also no. And when we consider how many managers lack training on coaching conversations and turn to disciplinary terms when a mistake is made instead of fostering an environment of growth it’s not surprising employees are fearful. 

Kick Perfectionism and Personal Branding to the Curb

In summary, our jobs are all wrapped up in what we do and how we show up in the world. Our jobs dictate what we do in our free time. Our work “personal brand” can seep into our time off the clock. Is it possible to change this? Are we able to put solid boundaries between work and our lives at home? Are we allowed to be ourselves fully and authentically at work as long as we aren’t hurting anyone else in the process? I hope so and I’m here to help anyone who wants to do that. 

Ready to find a career that is authentically you? Head over here to schedule a discovery call

I want you to be able to show up as you for work. And I want to enable you to leave work at work. Let’s take the power back from our employers!