Learning to trust your gut with Yui Hashimoto

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Do you ever feel attached to your career looking a certain way? This is what was happening with my next podcast guest, Yui Hashimoto, when we first started working together.

She was a postdoc at the Dartmouth College Society of Fellows; and after having spent the first decade of her career in academia getting a PhD, the only model of ‘success’ she knew was continuing on the path to becoming a professor. The fear of stepping off this path when she’d ‘already invested so much’ was significant.

But as her postdoc was nearing to a close she felt depleted, stressed, and uncertain - academia wasn’t feeling great but she had no idea what life would look like outside of the career she had planned on for so long.

Yui ended up leaving academia and feels lighter, clearer and more energized as a program evaluator at Public Health Seattle & King County. 

As a ‘recovering academic’ she continues to keep her toe in the academic world, mentoring students, writing, and thinking with her collaborators. She's also written some great reflections on her career transition out of academia which you can find on Medium

When she's not working, Yui is playing with her niblings (the children of her siblings), running, practicing yoga, catching up with friends, or looking for the next restaurant or café to try.

Yui and I had a rich conversation where we discuss: 

  • Shedding the shoulds that ruled her life and taking the leap into the unknown
  • The power of showing up and being yourself, how it impacts your relationship to work and your stress levels
  • The importance of talking to people outside your industry to get fresh perspectives on how to approach your career
  • How reimagining your career effectively requires you to look at your life holistically.
  • What happens when we ignore our feelings and only rely on our brain.
  • The impact of listening to our body's signals on our productivity and energy levels.
  • Where to start if you want to learn to trust your gut
  • The importance of taking your time to make career moves
  • How to take control of your time if you feel like there's never enough
  • The surprising benefits of putting yourself first
  • And much more


Anne: Welcome to the career studio podcast, where we boil down the noise and focus on the core concepts, essential for building an energizing career you love. One that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life. Anyone can do it. It's just a matter of knowing what to focus on.

All right hello. I am here today with another person who I think is thriving professionally and personally. And I am doing these interviews to show you that feeling energized and aligned at work is not just for celebrities or titans of industry, or people who are lucky or have lots of money. It is really available to every single one of us, including you.

And also just to note here, that. My intention with the podcast is to mix in conversations and interviews with people who I think are thriving and who have crafted their career in a unique and interesting way that allows them to do that. And then also interspersed with my teachings so you get a flavor of, uh, what you actually need to do to create an energizing career that you love.

Okay. My guest today is Yui Hashimoto. Yui is currently a recovering academic and program evaluator at Public Health Seattle and King County. When she started working with me in the spring of 2021, she was a postdoc at the Dartmouth College Society of Fellows with every intention of becoming a professor.

Today, Yui keeps her toe in the academic world by mentoring students, writing and thinking with her collaborators. She's written some really great reflections on her career transition out of academia, which you can find on Medium. You can find a link in the show notes, or you can just search Yui Hashimoto on medium .

When she's not working Yui is playing with her nibbling, which is a term Yui taught me, which actually means the children of her siblings. She's running, practicing yoga, catching up with friends or looking for that next restaurant or cafe to try. Yui and I had a rich conversation. We really got into it and we went a little bit longer than I normally like to go, but it was a great discussion where we talked about shedding the shoulds that ruled her life and taking the leap into the unknown, the power of showing up and being yourself and how that impacts your relationship to work and your stress levels. The importance of talking to people outside of your industry and how that impacts your perspective.

How reimagining your career effectively requires you to look at your life holistically. What happens when we ignore our feelings? The impact of listening to our body signals on productivity and energy levels. Where to start if you wanna learn to trust your gut, the importance of taking your time to make career moves, how to take control of your time, even if you feel like there's never enough. The surprising benefits of putting yourself first and a lot more. Okay, let's dive in.

Where I like to start usually is just to tell me or, or reflect back on how you were feeling before you started this work. Like describe that version of you and like what was going on for her and where her headspace was and the realities of her life.

Yui: You know, it's funny that when you invited me to the podcast, I had a moment of, uh, freak out cuz I was like, honestly, I don't remember. I feel like I, I purposely have sort of put that in a box and put it away. But then I was reading over the sort of final sheet that you have us fill out and I was also reading back over my medium pieces and I was remembering, I was just so stressed out and panicking and didn't know where to turn and all of my usual strategies of ,this is gonna be okay. We're gonna do this, weren't working. And so I just decided I needed to try something different. I needed to talk to different people who had different perspectives and I just needed a change. I didn't know what that change was or what it was gonna look like, but I just knew I had to find different avenues of learning about myself cuz the old things weren't working.

Anne: It's funny that I sometimes feel that way too. When you do so much personal work, it's almost like you don't even remember that old version of yourself. It can be hard to remember. You have to find notes and stuff to, to remember the patterns of thought. Maybe, um, you could describe a little bit more also, uh, specifically what you were doing professionally.

Yui: So I, was an academic in my former life. And so I was coming to the end of a three year postdoc and I was on the job market for the fourth or the fifth time. And you know, I had made myself all these promises, like, I'm not gonna take a one year job. I'm gonna get a tenure track job, or I'm gonna find something else to do.

And I told myself all those things, but I obviously had not dealt with all the feelings that go with that. And so we were coming up to, I think the end of the school year, I think it was like March or April, and I was just like, I, I need to do something different. I'm kind of approaching, uh, an endpoint and I have no idea.

It is just a cliff after that and I have no idea what it's after that cliff. And so I was frantically trying to figure out, am I gonna take one of these one year jobs? Am I gonna. Am I gonna kind of walk back on all these promises I made myself? Or am I going to start down a different path and look for a non-academic job?

And honestly, when I first started talking to you, I, I wasn't expecting all the things that happened. I was sort of expecting like, oh, you just helped me figure out like, oh, do I want an academic job or do I want a non-academic job? And it ended up being so much more than that. So that's where I was.

Anne: Thank you. Thank you. And I, I was looking back at our, a lot of the notes from our time together as well, and maybe you could add to this. I think there's a lot of shoulds leading your life. Could you expand on that?

Yui: Yeah. It's so funny cuz I, you know, there was a yoga teacher when I was in grad school who had the saying, you know, shed the shoulds and I was like, yeah, shed the shoulds. But I wasn't actually thinking about how many shoulds I actually tell myself on a daily basis. And so I was very stuck in these narratives which I write about on medium, like all of these narratives that I kept on telling myself and, you know, There's a saying, if you tell yourself enough times they become reality for you and that that's what these narratives have become like being an academic is my dream job.

If I quit, I'm letting a bunch of people down. If I hate my job, I can't come back to academia. Like, this is just the path that you have to take. You have to suffer in order to get the career that you want. And I was just telling myself all these things and I didn't even question. How rooted in reality they were.

I just sort of kept chugging along. If I just go on the job market one more time, if I take this postdoc, you know, one more postdoc, I'll get that job. As opposed to actually stepping back and asking myself, is this actually the life I want to live?

Anne: I love that they're so often we're doing something because almost an unexplored reason why. We're doing them. Someone in our life. Where do you think your, your shoulds came from? I mean, you've just articulated them, but do you think they came from the community? Did you develop them yourself?

Yui: I think they started off as things that I witnessed in grad school, and then they became my own. They became my own because I, no one ever told me that I had to do. X, Y, and Z. I mean, occasionally I'd hear things like, you know, this is just what you have to do, and so on. But for the most part, you know, those people aren't holding a gun to my head and saying, you must do this. It was me telling myself like, you can do this Yui, you know, and I was thinking about. I think sports teaches me lots of amazing things, but I think also it teaches you like you have to finish, even if you're crawling across the finish line, you have to keep going or you have to do what you're told and you'll be fine.

Stick to the training plan and you'll be fine. And you know, I kind of take that to the extreme and just keep going, even if I'm sick or I'm injured or whatever. And it's the same kind of thing with, I think my career. I was like well, you know, I've been told that like, I'm really good at this. I've been told that this is the path that you take.

I've been told all of these things and therefore I should just keep going down this path. And you know, in academia, the further along you get, the more niche you get. And so I was thinking like, well, I'm kind of painting myself into a corner. I don't really know how to do anything else. This, this is all I've ever done.

So I think it's a combination of, sort of academic culture, maybe some of my childhood, um, growing up kinds of narratives of like, this is just what you do. You just sort of tolerate it and do it. And then also my own sort of internalizing of all of these messages.

Anne: I think that so many of us are operating from a place of should, right. I should do this. And it's almost this uninvestigated narrative. Of what we think our career should look like, what we think our life should look like, that we haven't ever poked our head up and asked ourselves, is this what I want? And I think your point that you said as well around, even if I'm suffering like that, it has to feel hard.

That it has to feel painful. I think that's a, a story that we tell ourselves as well. like that work shouldn't, of course, hard work is important and anything worth having is always going to require a level of hard work. But I think at the same time you have to ask yourself, do I want the result enough for how it makes me feel every single day?

Yui: Yeah. Cuz I was thinking about the sort of thoughts to feelings sort of, pattern that you have us think about. And I was thinking about how I, I think a lot of the reason why I kind of forgot and didn't wanna remember how I was feeling and where I was at is because I don't wanna feel that pain, like physical pain, like the, I think I talked to you a lot about how I had this pain in the back of my throat and that like I was always feeling really,like my gut was in knots and I just wasn't feeling that great. And it's because I was so miserable. But I thought that's the sort of price that you paid in order to get ahead. And that just isn't the case. Like it, or it doesn't have to be that way.

Anne: Totally, totally. And I think I wanna talk about a lot of things you just said, but before we go there, I think I'd love you to just say like, where are you now? How do you feel now? Like what are you doing now? Like contrast where you are now to that version of yourself?

Yui: Yeah, so I've been working for over a year at the local public health department, and I'm a program evaluator for public health programs. Right now I'm working on covid based programs and I feel just so much clearer.

I don't have that pain anymore, and I am a lot. I listened to my body a lot more. So like on days where I'm like, oh, I've been sitting for a really long time. I need to go for a walk. Or like, even before this, I was feeling a little anxious and I was like, why am I feeling anxious? You know, this is something, it's not anything that I have to study for and isn't gonna make me defend anything.

So I did some yoga and I feel much better. And then I was thinking about, oh, okay, this is, this is your fear response. But you know, my therapist taught me that fear and sort of apprehension and those sorts of feelings. It's a double-edged sword with excitement. So I was like, oh no, actually I'm really excited to do this podcast.

This is, you know, a topic that I really love talking about and care about. And obviously I've gotten such good responses from people reading my medium pieces and so, You know, I just reframed it as excitement, as opposed to, Ugh, this is gonna go terribly. You know, I am gonna be really incoherent and I'm gonna be really nervous. And instead I was like, I'm really excited to do this.

Anne: Yeah, I love that. I love that you did the yoga to get yourself grounded, and I love that you just are feeling more energized. Like how would you like in terms of the job and what you have to do every day for work? How does that feel in terms of being a reflection of who you are and how you wanna spend your time? What gets you going?

Yui: Yeah, I mean, it's interesting cuz I'm, I, I'm often surprised because obviously, you know, I jumped into something that's completely different to what I've ever done and I often surprise myself, oh, like the things that I thought I was gonna miss about academia, I actually still have in my job, so for instance, mentoring students, I still get to mentor students in this job and it, it's so satisfying to kind of look back and be like, oh, I didn't expect this thing to happen, but it happened and it's better than I could have ever imagined it.

And I am really, you know, there, there are things that I miss about my academic work. You know, I'm not. I've had to kind of rebuild who I'm working with and who are my allies in my work. And I, I guess it's highlighted for me more of what I'm interested in. Like I didn't realize how much teamwork was so, filled out my cup so much, and so I, I really enjoyed being on a team.

I really enjoy problem solving. And you know, I responded to your LinkedIn message the other day being like, I am feeling like I'm kind of in the slow descent into the end of the year. But in general, I don't dread going to work. I don't dread opening my computer. I'm actually pretty excited to kind of do my work and, you know, interact with people and, and make a difference. Cause I know that that's something that I realized working with you was making a difference And understanding how the world works is, is something that makes me tick. And that it's, I wouldn't say that it's effortless because obviously work is work, but, yeah, I don't feel like I have to pretend and sort of put on a show of, oh, I'm an academic. I know all this stuff. Listen to me. Um, or like proving myself and, and instead kind of just showing up and being who I am.

Anne: I, I think that, that's so powerful when you can just show up and be yourself, and that's what you have to do. I mean, I think I, I remember when I started coaching, and especially when I started coaching full-time, This idea that showing up for work. I just have to be myself. I mean, I have some training and structure obviously, that I've put into this career, but I really am not pretending to be, and I'm not trying to fit myself or show that I can do X, Y, Z things or write a strategic deck, et cetera. I'm just myself and therefore that lowers my stress levels so much. Because I don't have to pretend to be someone I am not.

Yui: Yeah. And I always felt like, you know, when I was an academic, I knew that I was good at it, but I was always walking on eggshells, like, when was the other shoe gonna drop? And suddenly, you know, I wasn't smart enough or I wasn't, you know, my paper wasn't good enough, or like, oh, that's like, that's a horrible paper that you presented, or whatever.

And I, I don't fear those things anymore, like those. Yeah. If you are, if you are yourself, you can, you're not feeling like, oh, everything is so delicate. Like I have to, you know, sidestep around certain people or certain people's ideas and it, it's just, life is just a lot easier. And it's funny cuz people are like, oh, what's new in your life?

And I'm like, honestly, I'm just happy that, you know, I have a good job. It pays well. I get to close my computer at five o'clock. I get to work out at lunch. I get to work from home. All of these things. And you know, in some ways my life is quite boring, but I'm okay with that. That's kind of, I like having like a steady pace to my life, you know?

Anne: I love that. It really just takes so much less energy to be yourself . And it just feels really natural and really good. I wonder. What do you think had to change to get you from the Yui who was in that place of, these are all the shoulds and I have to have a career as an academic to the place you are now. What did you have to start or stop doing or mindsets that you have to adopt or let go of?

Yui: Yeah, I think it's, uh, all of the above kind of thing. I think the first thing that I had to change was who I was kind of talking to or getting advice from in terms of, you know, what I was doing with my life and if academia was the right path. And so, you know, I started off with talking to my brother and my sister-in-law cause I was living with them at the time. And they were not academics and they were just sort of like, what on earth are you doing? Um, how, how can you be treated like that? And so on and so forth. And so having people who honestly have nothing to do with what you do but care about you and are invested in you talking to those people, obviously, I mean, I have academic friends who also did that for me too, but having people who are kind of from outside of whatever world you're in.

It was really helpful to me and also having them help me figure out, okay, so in academia you are a cv, and they helped me convert all my materials to a resume. They helped set up informational interviews for me so I could explore what career options I could have with my background, introduce me to other people, that kind of thing.

And then also mindset. I think I had to, confront various underlying myths that, you know, we've kind of already mentioned. But for example, that academia is my dream job. Is it when I ask myself, is it actually your dream job? Or are there certain characteristics that you want your job to have? So you, it's not that you want to be an academic, it's that you like mentoring students.

It's that you enjoy creative problem solving and asking good questions. Academia and that, you know, one job can have everything that you would ever want. So I had to sort of confront my long-standing myths that I kept on telling myself. And also not just sort of career myths, but also life myths that I had to sacrifice my own personal wellbeing, my mental health, like where I wanted to live, who I wanted to live with in order to get this sort of so-called dream job.

And so I think also trying to elevate all of these life priorities that I had for myself, that it's not just sacrificing everything for your career, because that's just, I, I think the, the question that I asked myself that really changed my mind was when I'm on my deathbed, What are my niece and nephew gonna remember about me?

They're not gonna remember the, you know, Ted talk that I gave, or like the amazing lecture that I gave, or like some cutting edge article that I wrote. They're gonna remember that I showed up for them and that I had holidays with them and you know, went to their sports games and stuff like that. They're not gonna remember what I did for my work, I want my work to be fulfilling, but it's not a hundred percent of the story, and so I kind of had to reframe, oh, I can prioritize myself and my life too.

Anne: I love that. There's so many important nuggets in there that I just wanna talk about a few of them. One, it sounds like, you know, talking to people, right? Talking to people who you think can provide insight and information is so critical. Figuring out what's gonna work for you. I think a lot of people have hesitancy around having conversations, especially when you don't know. Right. And, one of the things I noted down that often I see is that when we're in an industry, it's like we're in a little bubble, right? And we think like that. That's the whole world. Especially, you know, if we're at a prestigious place, right? And we kind of attach our identity. When I was working in advertising, I worked at an amazing agency in London that had an incredible global reputation. And for a long time I loved that and I was doing well there.

But in the process, I kind of attached my identity as a person to this agency and to that industry in general. And so then when it started to not work, I was like, oh my God, am I. Am I worthwhile? Right? Like suddenly you question your value if your identity is attached to that institution, which is why having conversations with people who you respect and admire outside of your bubble can help just take those blinders off and realize like there's, there's a lot of other bubbles there that you can get involved in. Like it's, yours isn't the be all end all, but we kind of get into this little frame of mind.

Yui: Yeah, and it's also an echo chamber cuz for the most part, if you're only talking to people who are in whatever industry you are in, it's just an echo chamber. Cuz it's like, oh, well I really love my job, so why, why don't you?

Or like, I don't really know how to help you or, I mean, another narrative I was telling myself was like, well, you know, all of these people in my life from my personal life, you know, they just don't understand. They're not academics. They just don't understand. But then I, I kind of asked myself, isn't that a good thing?

You know, it's good to have perspectives from a variety of different vantage points. And so, you know, I think being open. Yeah, being open to learning from other people regardless of what their expertise is. Like if I went around saying, well, so-and-so doesn't have a PhD, so they don't know what I'm talking about, or they can't understand what I'm talking about.

First of all, there's this thing called empathy, but then also that, um, that we, we, we won't learn anything about ourselves if we don't ask people from different parts of our lives to kind of reflect back to us what they're hearing.

Anne: Totally. Diversity is important, right? And helps us make better decisions in, in every sort of environment. So, so gather this kind of diverse set of mindset and backgrounds around you so that you can make better decisions.

Yui: Yeah. And to be open to it. And, and we talked about this a lot, being curious about, oh, I never thought about that for myself or, and you don't have to agree with everything that everyone is saying. It is just something that you didn't know about yourself or you didn't realize about yourself that other people pick up on.

Anne: Totally. And, and the other thing I thought was really important about what you shared about what had to change is, We live in a culture where there's this idea that professional success comes only at the cost of personal sacrifice. Right? And I think one of the big things that I work on, and that certainly you and I worked on, is this idea of I can have both. And in fact, the two are inextricably linked. You have to think of your life holistically in order to create an energizing career that you love . So I love that you did.

Yui: Yeah, it doesn't have to be either or, you know, it's, but you have to rethink what success or what you want is before you can kind of get there. Because if I, if I told that to myself when I first met you, I would've said that. That wasn't true that if I did, if I couldn't have this academic career that I, I wasn't, and I wasn't sacrificing anything, then I wasn't actually.

I would never get to where I wanted to go. And that just isn't true once you let go of those shoulds, you know?

Anne: Totally. I think also, you know, what you said is this idea of instead of it has to be an academic career, just pulling out, okay, actually what are the qualities, right? What do I wanna do? What kind of problems do I wanna think about?

What do I wanna be able to do in my personal life? Right? That kind of work we do around Brand and North Star, and then, Now that I can see these components individually asking myself, okay, academia maybe gives me that, but are there other environments that can get me closer to all of these things?

Yui: Yeah. And that maybe that one job doesn't have it all and that's okay. So, you know, I don't really publish that much anymore in my day job, but you know, I still have friends in academia and we kind of talk about ideas and write and think together. You know, I'm also scratching the writing itch by writing about my career transition on Medium.

And you know, I've connected with so many people on LinkedIn and things like that just through these articles because I know that lots of people are suffering and that it's not just me. And so, yeah, scratching that itch in other ways, like your day job doesn't have to have everything. It just has to. Well, first of all, it you know, pays you enough and also it is fulfilling and you're satisfied with it. And then also like you have time to do other things that fill your cup.

Anne: Totally. Right. It might not be that the thing that you do primarily every day scratches every itch. But if you can kind of restructure your life to make space for doing something on the side, right. That really engages you. You know, you're getting that in a different way. This idea of kinda a portfolio career or just making sure that what you do gives space for you to pursue your other interests.

Yui: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: What do you, what do you think was the hardest part of this transition for you?

Yui: The thing that comes to mind is, so while I was working with you, I was offered a really prestigious postdoc, and I also got the job that I have now. And I think that sort of crossroads of like, oh, the rubber is hitting the road. What? You know, I've talked about all these things. Now it's time to act on some of these things. And so I. That week where I had to make a decision, I think was really challenging. I mean, I, I called up basically everyone that I knew, academic, friends, my mentors, my family members, and I just asked all of them like, what should I do?

Obviously I knew that ultimately the decision was down to me, but I wanted to kind of hear. Their thoughts on my seeming dilemma. And so I think it was really putting into practice all these things that I had thought about and learned about, but hadn't actually had to make a decision yet. And yeah, actually being accountable to all the things that we talked about, you know, that.

Oh, do I want ? Do I want to switch careers and have a more comfortable, stable life in a place where I wanna live and still be able to pursue all the things that I want to do or do I want this postdoc? And I have no idea what comes after that. It's just another cliff next year. So I think really deciding and committing to my decision was probably the hardest thing.

Anne: Yeah. And I, I think, I don't wanna put words in your mouth, so let's see. But would you say this was a moment where you had to start, of course you, it sounded like you talked to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, the decision was yours. And do you think you accessed your gut at all during that decision? And like, talk to me a little bit about that experience.

Yui: Yeah, no, absolutely. It was absolutely about trusting my gut because I, I think I talked to all these people to sort of validate my, my gut reaction. And I think the thing that it came down to was when I went into the interview for each of these positions, the academic one, you know, it went well, but I was.

You know, my gut was in knots and I didn't know, you know, how I felt and I was really nervous and I had to prove myself and defend my ideas and things like that. But then when I went into the interview for, and these were all online cuz we were in Corona Times, I went into the interview panel for the job that I have now and I was like, wow, these people are so nice.

Like they, they really care about their jobs, they. Are really knowledgeable and they're really warm and welcoming. Like the, it, it was sort of uncomfortable, but I was like, oh, I felt sort of at ease, you know? And it wasn't a defensive, you know, defending your ideas kind of thing. It was just generally they wanted to know more about you.

And so I think I just kept on calling people. Cause I wanted people to validate that feeling of like, oh, this, uh, like these are people I actually wanna work with. Like, they seem genuinely really interested in what they do. Would be great colleagues. And so yeah, I think I just wanted people to validate that.

Anne: Yeah, because I think that this was early day, you know, we'd probably been working together a couple months, so it was early-ish when we were working together, and I think this was one of the first instances of kind of noticing the difference in how it felt and practicing trusting your gut instead of what your head was saying. Right.

And this is a muscle that you have to build. And I'm wondering, you know, now that you're kind of more in touch with your feelings and listening to your gut more, how does that manifest for you now? Are you like listening to your gut, like how you make decisions? I'd love for you to expand on that.

Yui: Yeah, no, I mean, trusting my gut was like the first thing that I wrote about in my medium pieces. Cause I do truly believe that, especially as academics, you know, we're trained to think our brains are our prize possessions. And it's true because our ideas are our currency. I mean, that's why plagiarism is the biggest crime in academia. It's because it, our currency is our minds and our ability to analyze and ask questions.

And so I think. That was really difficult for me to figure out that yes, my brain is very important. It has allowed me to do a lot of things and I wouldn't change my path for anything. But I think also in relying so much on my brain, I kind of lost touch with. How I felt about everything. Like I, I could tell like I was in pain and that I was depressed and anxious and things like that, but I was just sort of like, oh, let's just ignore that.

You know, that doesn't, that's just what I have to do in order to get ahead. And so now I think, Yeah, I don't have those pains anymore. Like, I don't, or like, if I'm tired, you know, if I, if I feel sort of sluggish or whatever, I'm like, oh, okay, I need to step away from my computer. I'm gonna go for a walk around the block, or like, I'm gonna go, you know, grocery shopping and like come back and like, get to it.

And it always helps me. Like it'll, I always feel more energized or like, I just need a reset. And so I think. Or like, you know, if I'm really tired, like I'm not go, I can, I can text my friends and be like, I'm not going out tonight. Or you know, if I have a meeting that I just can't deal with, I'll leave my camera off or I just won't go.

You know it, it's not that big of a deal. And I think, yeah, reframing like I'm not an emergency room doctor. No one is gonna die if I don't respond to this email right now. I can just go for that walk or. You know, I'll do some yoga in the middle of the day or whatever. I think it's just, I feel I'm way more productive and I'm also just a lot happier when I'm actually listening to my gut and my body and what I need at the time. Am I hungry? Okay, well, maybe I need to go get a snack or maybe I just need to switch off for a few minutes. It, it really, it just makes life a whole lot easier.

Anne: Completely. I think I, I wrote a post about this the other day. You know, people always are like, oh, I wanna get better at trusting my gut instinct. Well, the place to start is practice listening to your feelings, right? And when I say feelings, I mean the sensations that are coming up in your body, right? Is it tight? Is it loose? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it tired? Right? Just noticing how you feel. Starts to have you understand when your body is saying yes and when your body is saying no.

And what, you know, what your body was saying in the interview process was Yes to this. The job Right in in the Seattle Public Health Department. Right. Because that team really vibed with you. And I think that's the other thing about. Building a career in alignment is that the environments that are the right fit for you are just gonna feel easy, right?

It's gonna feel natural, it's going to feel welcoming. The people that get you will accept you. And so when you feel that resistance or that disconnection, it almost, it's almost like a boundary to be like, oh, okay, don't go this way, go this other direction. Like the universe is telling you. Which direction to go, but it requires you to listen to your body.

Yui: Yeah. It's like when I've talked to friends about, for instance, bad interview experiences that they've had and, you know, they don't end up getting the job, but then later on down the line they're, you know, really happy that they didn't get that job cuz it was, it was sort of a, a red flag that went up, you know, they had bad vibes about, you know, having this interview or whatever.

And then, That gut was right, that it wasn't the right job for them. Even if in the moment out of desperation, you're like, I really need this job. That, that's the other thing that was really hard for me was. , I needed to get over the desperation and get into like, okay, now that I'm past the desperation, you know, like, ah, I need to just get a job. I need healthcare.

And kind of taking whatever I could get. Like actually thinking about what do I actually want to do because there's no, you know, I have a roof over my head, you know, I have savings, like I have skills, so I might as well think carefully. About what it is that I'm interested in as opposed to working from like a place of desperation and taking whatever I can get, and then honestly making bad decisions.

Anne: Totally. I mean, this is, this is the classic. Place I often meet people in is when your environment professionally starts to feel like it's not working. People are so uncomfortable in this space of confusion or you know, it's, I don't know what it is, it's just about quick make a decision just to like fix whatever my fear is at the moment for you.

Healthcare, just like not knowing where I'm going or whatever. Just like quick make a decision, quick make a decision. . And when you're in that place, you're making the decision from a place that's not in alignment, right? A place of just making a decision to make one, which means that the environment you're gonna end up in is another one that won't be a good fit.

So really stopping and embracing the ambiguity of the moment and taking that time to explore and really identify specifically, okay, what are those aspects that are gonna make me feel more aligned is essential.

Yui: Yeah. And there's always more time. So yeah, thinking really strategically and clearly about what you want, I, I don't think enough of us spend enough time doing that. And then also that those things are gonna change over time.

Anne: I think that's a super good point. For some reason, I think maybe it's, it's our generation having the parents that we did, you know, kind of in the baby Boomer era, but, this idea that like, oh, it's one and done. Like I just pick a career path and then execute on it.

And so therefore, if I'm, if I don't like it anymore, it's a disaster. But understanding that you're, you're a person who's gonna evolve and your priorities are gonna shift, and your interests are gonna change. And what you know about yourself and what you like to do is gonna change. And it's okay to reframe and adjust your career and your life according.

Yui: Yeah, and I think, you know, academia is particularly prone to the one and done because of the way that it's set up. And you know, I hear of lots of people who are on the tenure track who want to jump off and, or, you know, people in my position who never get there, but it, you know, there's no one and done like, you know, in the time, in the year and a three months or something that I've been in this job, I've had a bunch of coworkers who started with me who have already left. So, You know, people change jobs all the time for a variety of reasons, and no one is gonna hold that against you.

And so, and I think in academia in particular, because you know, people tend to stay at one university for the rest of their careers, that oh, somehow we're kind of painted into that corner and that there's no way out. And there's always a way out, I think. But we decide to not see those ways out.

Anne: Yeah, so true. There's always a way out if you choose to see it. That's the perspective, right? It is looking for how could it work differently? I'm open to believing it could let me explore. Let me take some time in this confusion and explore. I, um, I think like slightly shifting topics, but I think one of the big, looking back on my notes, one of the big things we worked on together was your relationship with time? And time management and, and, um, maybe I'll just stop there and I, I'd love for you to talk a little bit about your own journey with how you managed your time.

Yui: I am quietly laughing at my relationship with time. I.

Anne: Yeah. And hold on, let me, and let me add, one thing I wanna add is, and how you think that's impacted, you know, how you feel about your career, how you feel about your life specifically. Like why is it important?

Yui: Yeah, no time is really important cuz I, and I'm gonna get really nerdy, but also I think time, how my relationship to time is dependent on scale. So like on a day-to-day basis. I think I used to be obsessed with, you know, managing every minute of my day and that I was wasting time if I wasn't scheduling every minute of my day from when I woke up at six o'clock until I went to bed at night at like 10 or 11.

And. Yeah, I was obsessed with, I, I thought I wasn't in control, like I was controlling my time, but it was out of my control because it was to other things like attending lectures or giving lectures or preparing for class or having office hours. It was always time carved out for other people , and I think now I'm much more in control of my time.

I thought I would be less in control of my time because my calendar is open and people can schedule things whenever they want on my calendar if it's free. But in some ways, like I have way more control over my time because I just tell people, okay, I'm not gonna talk to you during this time because I have lunch or like I'm working out, or I'll cancel meetings when I am like, I dunno why we're meeting at four o'clock on a Friday.

Anne: And I wonder, you know, how you used to be obsessed with this scheduling and then kind of really holding yourself to this schedule or beating yourself up when, when you weren't on schedule, what had to shift? You know, if someone who is, is like you, the ver old version of you, right? And they're listening to this, what had to shift? What, what did you have to, yeah, I'll just ask it that way. What had to shift in order for you to have a different relationship with time?

Yui: I definitely think it was about the narratives. I was telling myself that I had to be this super productive person all the time. Burning the candle at both ends for little to no pay, and I had to kind of stopped myself and say, You know, do you wanna feel like this for the rest of your life?

You know, always stressed out, you know, even when you're not working, you know, you are always thinking about that article you have to write, or those, you know, lectures that you have to build or whatever. So I, I just had to stop myself and think, who am I dedicating all of this time too? And, Do I ever get that back?

And also, is this sustainable? You know, you're not getting any younger, can you burn the candle at both ends for the rest of your career? I don't think so. Um, and so yeah, really asking myself these questions of like, who am I doing it for and why?

Anne: And like, what do you tell yourself now? Because now you do say no and you. Yeah. You do say no, and you do have a more flexible relationship with time. So what are you telling yourself now that helps you do that?

Yui: Well, now it, it's a question of, you know, if I do that yoga class or I, you know, do things like this or write my medium pieces or hang out with my friends, or not hang out with my friends. It's about, you know, This is my time and I want to spend my time doing things that I enjoy and that fill me up and that makes me better at my work. That makes me better also in my life, if I am happy and, you know, feeling light and grounded, um, that means that I can show up to all aspects of my life in a much fuller way, and I think.

That's just better for everyone around me. You know, if I can be there when my niece and nephew are being really difficult, or if someone on our team is like not having a good time, you know, we can sort of support each other much better and show up much better. So now, yeah, now I'm like, oh, okay, I'm doing this for myself, but I'm also doing this for the greater good of everyone around me.

Anne: Hmm. It's kind of almost counterintuitive, right? I think first you think you have to sacrifice what you need for other people, but you realize that's the whole trick. Actually putting yourself first is actually the best way to serve yourself and therefore serve everyone around you.

Yui: Exactly, and I think that was something that I had a really hard time with. I think, you know, the way that I grew up and, yeah even like grad school and things like that, you put, you have to put everything else first. Your feelings are not relevant to this situation when they absolutely are. So it's all about stuffing those feelings away and being like, I'll deal with this later.

I need to do the task at hand. And instead being like, no, actually, how do I feel about that? And that kind of drives how I make decisions. Like if I'm really tired, I'm not gonna go. You know, dinner with my friends, like no one wants to see me when I'm exhausted and complaining all the time. So yeah, putting yourself first is actually a gift to yourself and everyone else.

Anne: I love that. That's quotable. If you had to boil down your experience to one or two key takeaways for someone who is in your shoes. What would you say if they had to walk away from this conversation with a couple things to think about?

Yui: I think being open and curious and wanting to change, cuz I think oftentimes, We have a mental, I say we as in royal we, myself included, thought, you know, like I've worked hard, I've learned all these things. I'm super smart, I'm super successful, and that there's nothing left for us to learn. And that just isn't true. And also that if we do the right things, the the cool things, the right things, the successful things will just land in our lap. And that just isn't true. And you have to. It's really hard work and when you're already stressed and burned out and depressed and anxious, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of effort reexamining your life and where you want to go.

But it, it's hard work that's really worth it. It's hard work that actually makes your life infinitely better as opposed to, I worked really hard on this article and you know, 20 people are gonna read it. So I think you have to be curious and open to, and want to learn more about yourself and where you want to go. It's not just gonna land on your lap just because we've gotten all these letters after our names.

Anne: I love that.

Yui: That's one. I think the second one is talking to other people, and I guess that's related to number one, talking to people. A variety of people, not just people who are gonna reflect back to you what you want to hear, but also might tell you what you need to hear and what life is like in other industries or you know, careers, et cetera.

And so I think, and those people are already around you. Yes. You know, if you're gonna get into the particulars about a particular job, then yeah, you will have to find someone. in that position. But for the most part, you know, when you're talking about these broad strokes of what do I want from life, what do I want from work?

Those sorts of things anyone can help you with. You know, anyone who can, who's good listener, who you know loves and cares about you, is gonna be able to do that for you. And so getting a variety of opinions and, and then owning your decision that you take from there. and not not being fearful because honestly you don't have that much to lose because you're already, or at least I was already miserable and depressed and anxious, and I just didn't wanna feel like that anymore.

And so I was like, well, I've got nothing to lose. Like I, I need to just jump and see what happens. Like what's the worst that could happen? I don't like it, and I'll find something else to do.

Anne: Yeah, I love that. I think talking to people, it's really so important. You know, just people that you respect and admire and to your point, you think, you know we'll, we'll be a good listener just to open the aperture as to, to what's possible and it's okay that you don't know right? It is it okay that you don't know what you wanna do yet? Just starting to talk to people starts to get the creative juices flowing and open the window to what's possible. I love those. Those are really wonderful recommendations. I, I've loved this conversation. We've touched on so much important stuff is do you think there's anything else that we haven't discussed or that you wanted to share before we close down?

Yui: No, I think I've, I've said everything that I was, had sort of running through my head as I was thinking about the podcast and yeah, it honestly, This experience with you and also with my therapist. Honestly, I don't think like you all are in that sort of group of people who have supported me along the way, and I think.

You know, it's an investment, but you're investing in yourself, you know, and I think that that is so important. Oftentimes we're like, no, I don't need that. So I don't wanna spend that money. But you're spending it on yourself. It's so important. And I think oftentimes we just sort of deny ourselves things that would actually help us. So.

Anne: That's so true. I mean, what is a more important investment than the one that helps you live a life that feels better for you. I mean, what else is there? You know, no car or house or article of clothing or vacation is going to give you the long lasting benefits. That personal work with the right person who's a good fit for you will give you.

Yui: Yeah, and I think, and it's also all things that, you know, maybe five or 10 years down the line, I'm like, oh, okay. You know, I think it's time for a shift, but I already have those tools. It's not something that I need, I don't, I don't necessarily need a career coach, like every day it, but once you have those tools, you can kind of just reevaluate for yourself, you know, it kind of pays for itself and is,yeah, in the long term is such a, an important investment in yourself and your growth. And also I think the, the life work balance, not just sort of a throwaway term, but you actually help us think through work and life. And I think that's so important cuz oftentimes we're like, career coaches I want that like super high powered, like.

I wanna be in the C-suite at a corporation or whatever. Okay, great. And also, does that fit with your lifestyle? Like do you wanna have kids? Do you wanna, or like how do you do that with kids? You know, that kind of thing. And I just think that, yeah, my experience with you and my therapist. Yeah. Like honestly, I don't know where I would be without this experience with you. Like I certainly wouldn't be sitting here.

Anne: I appreciate that. I loved working with you. And to your point, this. Like once you learn it, you have it right? It's like teaching you to fish, right? This is like a set of tools that you're gonna use for the rest of your life, which means you can always stay in alignment, which is really where the good shit happens.

Yui: Yeah, and it's funny cuz I was looking back over some of my first prep forms that I wrote for you and I was like, oh, this is like how much I wanna make and this is what I wanna do. And you know, I've sort. Blown all of those things out of the water, you know, that I, I did, I was kind of under cutting myself because I was like, I don't know what I can do.

I, you know, I don't know anything. If I can't get a job in the industry that I'm trained for, you know, how am I gonna do this? And so I was really sort of undercutting myself because I thought, I wasn't worth it or that I didn't know anything and things like that. And you kind of helped me think about like, okay, well where do those things come from? You know, why are you telling yourself those things?

Anne: Yeah. I love that you've, you've created so much more than you thought was possible, and that's awesome. Yeah. To see you thriving.

Yui: Thank you. I, yeah, it's really exciting that, yeah, the hard work pays off. Amazing.

Anne: All right. Thank you so much for being on my podcast. I loved obviously working with you and then reconnecting with you now. It's wonderful to see your face. I always miss my clients .

Yui: Right? I know, I know. That's a sad, but is like, I mean, that, that's like any sort of therapeutic relationship. It's like, oh, like we see each other on and off occasionally, but it, it's not like a, you know, it's not like, you know, we touch base all the time kind of thing. So yeah, that does make me sad, but I don't regret anything, so thank you.

Anne: Well, thank you so much, Yui. It's been a pleasure.

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