Updated: Sep 3
*Guest blog by Chelsea Conrad of Proactive Happiness
Upon deciding to part ways with my old corporate accounting gig some years ago, I recall someone asking me how I could be so brave as to leave the corporate world, and start my own business (something I had never done before). When I look back on that conversation, I am pretty sure that what that person was REALLY saying was more along the lines of “Are you kidding me?? Have you lost your ever-loving mind?? You must be 100%, completely MAD!!!” I chuckle a bit when I think about how much restraint it must have required on their part to employ those social niceties. Oddly enough, I have no recollection of what my response was as I turned out headed out the door to start out on the next phase of my professional journey.
People make big professional decisions every day – from starting a new job, to changing careers, to switching industries, to starting their own business, and more. Prior to this particular stop on my professional journey, I changed jobs multiple times and even tested the waters in different industries. As a result of these changes over the past couple of decades, I have learned a lot about myself; I have learned what I am, what I am not, and what I have no reason to ever be, because it just isn’t me. I have gained confidence and true self-acceptance, and have learned to work WITH myself, rather than working against myself.
When I think about all of the brave professional warriors out there about to embark on these amazing professional journeys, I feel compelled to push pause for a moment, and share some of the lessons I have learned on my personal journey – in the hope that someone, somewhere can benefit. As a career coach, these are conversations I have with my clients on a regular basis as they embark upon their own professional adventures, so I know that I am not alone in my experiences.
As I reflect back on my personal experiences, and those of my clients, there is one underlying element that always comes up, regardless of what the specific circumstances are. And that, dear friends, is the idea of mind management. Changing jobs, moving into a new industry, leaving behind the warm and snuggly environment you know, brings with it a great deal of fear, uncertainty, second guessing, self-doubt, and a plethora of other emotions (yes, it is a long, and very distinguished list). So how do you “hold on” for the ride?
That’s right – by managing your mind. Without further ado, let me share some of my favorite practices around mind management:
Actively work to understand what you are….and what you aren’t. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to be everything, and if you’re trying to be, it isn’t going to end well. Start by incorporating some assessment work (personally, I am a big fan of Gallup CliftonStrengths), and think about the things you enjoy (and the things you dread!). Then, own them! There is one thing in this universe that you’re better at than anyone else, and that is being you. Now step into it, and embrace the awesomeness that you are.
Because you aren’t everything (see #1), there is no reason you should be doing everything; whether at home, in a full-time employment situation, or running your own business. We tend to set some pretty ridiculous expectations for ourselves sometimes, and they frequently involve a solid Atlas impersonation of carrying the world on our shoulders. We all need help sometimes (often, if you’re doing it right), and going through a big change in your professional journey is going to be one of those times. At home, get the kiddos to take on more chores around the house. In a full-time employment situation, clarify expectations with your supervisor, and work to establish some boundaries that get the job done, while also allowing for you to tend to the important areas of your life. If you’re a new entrepreneur, we live in the glorious age of technology; my personal favorite is hiring freelancers for all kinds of different odds and ends that need to get done.
Regardless of your circumstances, make a list of everything (yes, everything!) that is on your plate. Rank each thing in order of priority (I like to use a simple high, medium, low scale), and include whether each item on the list is something that has to be done by you, or if it is something you could farm out to someone else. Will the list be large? Yes, it will. But in creating this list, it will help you feel more of a sense of control, help you decide how you’re going to spend your time, and help you identify what you can get off of your plate.
Last, but definitely not least, get serious about your stress management program. Don’t leave it up to chance. Think about what works to recharge your batteries, and plug it into your program. Here is my current stress management program: I get out and have lunch or coffee with someone at least once each week (as I work at home), Thursday nights are my bubble bath night, Friday morning I head to the driving range to hit golf balls for an hour before I start my workday, and I have gotten my sleep routine in check. All of these items are on my calendar, and not negotiable. If you expect bring your best every day, and keep your sanity intact, you have to make your mind a priority and treat it accordingly.
Making a big professional change is exhilarating, exhausting, overwhelming, and amazing all at the same time. I have grown so much, both personally and professionally, during my career, especially over the years since I started my business. It has been incredibly challenging, and incredibly rewarding, and I wouldn’t change it in a million years.
By taking the right approach to mind management, you will be able to enjoy the awesome, exhilarating roller coaster ride that stands before you. Climb in, and hold on – it’s going to be a great ride!