Setting off a New Year – 3 Ways to Challenge Yourself

The last few years have been interesting for me.  For a long time, I felt in control of my career and happy about the life I led around it – I had the support of an amazing family and group of friends, I traveled the world and I got to do a job that on its best days felt like I got to give back to communities I really cared about.  Sure, there are life goals I’ve yet to accomplish, but all in all, I felt fulfilled and grateful for my experiences.

Over time, the part of me that’s ‘gone with the flow’ has gradually realized that approach hasn’t always served me.  Whether it was jumping on and off the fitness train, allowing the needs of others to come before my own, or taking on too much at work because I didn’t know how to say ‘no’, I started to notice there were areas in my life where I was allowing things to happen to me rather than setting my own path.

Sound familiar?

Well, I’m not sure if it’s exhaustion or the idea of turning 40 this year, but a few months ago, I did something I’d only dreamed of doing. I quit my corporate career and decided to ‘do me’.  Now, I’m not recommending everyone run out and leave well-paying, secure jobs to make a change. But after years of doing what everyone expected of me, I knew it was time for me to write my own story and do it my way.

Now that I’m out on this limb, I’m going to approach this next chapter in my life and career with intention. So how am I taking on 2018?

PASSION

You know what I loved about being a recruiter?  I got to help people start their dream careers. I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology and no corporate experience.  I felt my way through my first few years in corporate life. As a recruiter, I empathized with the experience my candidates were going through and enjoyed helping them develop as young professionals and navigate unknown territory. I coached countless young people and watched many of them grow and achieve their own professional goals.

You know what I could do without? Budgets, headcount discussions, meetings (that could have been emails) on end…

When I decided to re-evaluate my career, I started with a blank slate. I asked myself some questions we rarely take the time to consider: What am I good at? What do people ask my help with? When do I feel my best at work? When am I having fun?  Of course, I had to marry that with: What can I get paid to do? But you get the point.  Not that I’ll never work on budgets and headcount again (and, in fact, any entrepreneur or senior manager will tell you those are important parts of any business), but I’m excited to spend my days more focused on the work that truly moved me and, more importantly, made an impact for the people I mentored.

YOUR TURN: What are you passionate about, personally or professionally?  If you’re not regularly feeding your interests, make an action plan for carving out the time, resources and means to pursue them. Take small steps to pursue an activity you love.  If nothing speaks to you immediately, don’t sweat it. Revisit a favorite activity you used to enjoy as a child or follow your curiosity about a topic that peaks your interest.  Whatever you choose, having something that gives you life at the office or after hours makes a huge difference in [xxx].

NEW VENTURE

I come from entrepreneurs.  My parents have owned their own businesses for 30 years.  My brother and I had a front-row seat to the idea generation, the set-up, the client-building, the long hours, the wins and the setbacks… which is probably why I decided it’d be easier to work for someone else!

As much as I admired my parents’ grit and persistence, I liked the structure, team environment and steady paychecks that came with working for someone else.  But after I found myself putting in just as much time and effort and lacking control over how I spent my days, I started to take a fresh look at the idea of self-employment.

I’m under no delusion about the effort and skills needed to succeed at the helm of a small business.  Everything rides or dies on the strength of your product or service, your ability to promote yourself and your business, reaching the right clients at the right time and your position in the market. We haven’t even talked about having a bit of luck! But I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned for the better part of two decades and put my mark on the coaching industry. I’m anxious to take on a new challenge and build a business from the ground up.

YOUR TURN: When was the last time you tried something new?  Is there something you’ve been wanting to do, but have been too busy or scared to attempt? Push yourself to grow and stretch beyond your comfort zone, and remember that not everything has to be tackled at once.  Think about what you need in place to get going today and what you can add or build in later. Just get started!

SELF-CARE

We’ve all been there – hell, some of us are there today.  We’re so wrapped up in our responsibilities, should-dos and have-tos, bills and [xxx], everyone and everything that demands our attention.  Somewhere along the way, we find ourselves on auto-pilot.

This year, I’m challenging myself to better self-care! That’s right, unapologetically tending to the important things in my life. That means unplugging from time to time, being more mindful, getting more sleep and finally sticking to my fitness goals.  Sure, life’s thrown things at me that have been beyond my control, making it tough to tend to my own needs sometimes, but how many times have I just given up or given in? Or worse, how many times have I neglected to try? Self-care is about setting the intention and carving the time and space to make my mental and physical well-being a priority.

YOUR TURN: What does self-care mean to you?  Find at least a few minutes for yourself each day to just ‘do you’.  Consider a ritual or activity that makes you happy or just helps you relax and decompress. There are endless ways to practice self-care, but if you’re looking for a few ideas, start with improving your sleep and getting your body moving!

 

HOW WILL YOU CHALLENGE YOURSELF THIS YEAR?

Whether you call them resolutions, challenges or something else, it’s important to have goals you’re working toward. Life is about moving forward and without some sort of compass, we can find ourselves at the whim of the environment around us.  If you’re ready to take a fresh approach this year, I have a few tips for your journey:

  1. Set goals that are realistic and achievable.  You may have an interest in becoming a musician, but if you’ve never picked up an instrument, it may be a tall order to have your album drop next month.  Do a bit of homework or ask a few people you trust about their experience and then make it your own.
  2. Remember – progress over perfection.  Avoid getting overwhelmed with large goals. Break them down into small, manageable steps if you need to. For myself, starting a business has been daunting – I have so many ideas and there any number of directions I could choose. How did I move forward? One step at a time – I organized my goals, prioritized what absolutely needed to happen first and got going.  Don’t let the fear of not having everything mapped out paralyze your ability to get anything done at all.
  3. Get an accountability partner. Whether you tell the world or find one person who will keep you on task, it’s often a bit easier to make progress on your goals when someone else is checking up on you!  I tend to keep many parts of my own life close to the vest, but I’ve always had a small, close-knit group of family and friends with whom I share my dreams. They know just how much to push and when to cheerlead.  Even sharing my new venture with a few folks helped me put my plans in motion – it suddenly became real and I knew I needed to show something once I put the intention out there. Find your tribe and allow them to help support you in your progress.

Now go on and get yours in 2018!

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