The 4 skills for career fulfillment

Episode Image - Ep. 25 - The 4 skills for career fulfillment

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When our career stops working the way it once did it can be overwhelming. The confusion and ambiguity is uncomfortable. What do we pay attention to and what do we ignore? That’s why I started my business, to help people move through these moments of evolution with intention and structure. And the good news is, when you boil down the noise there are actually four fundamental things to focus on to build an energizing career you love. And if you focus on these four themes it’s like a playbook you can come back to time and time again as inevitably, who you are and what you want evolves. 

In this episode I discuss: 

  • How to own who you are and use that as a compass for your career
  • How to have conversations in a strategic and structured way to guide you and open doors
  • How to manage your mindset intentionally to create the emotions and actions that will facilitate the results you want in your life
  • How to set, hold and communicate the boundaries you need to thrive.


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.

Hello. I wanted to come on today and do an entire episode that discussed in full the core concepts of my business because when I launched this podcast, I broke it up over four episodes and I think it's just cleaner to discuss it in a more top level way in one episode because each of those episodes is great. It's just, there's a lot of detail in them and it's, I think, a little bit overwhelming. So yeah, that's the point of this podcast is to talk about philosophy in one go.

And so, yeah, you know, when I became a coach, it had been after getting fired, right? We talked about that in the last episode, and it had come off of many years of feeling really lost and really unhappy, and two rounds of burnout professionally. So I set about with my coaching business of how do I make it easier for people to create an energizing career they love? Because what's inevitable in our lives is that we will reach moments of uncertainty and confusion, right? Who we are and what we want evolves, often. And so, it's natural that we'll want to and need to restructure our career to support that evolution.

But what I notice is that you know, these moments of confusion and ambiguity when you reach your evolutionary points, they're very overwhelming for people. Because suddenly everything that was working is no longer working in the same way. And it's hard to know where to start, right? What do you pay attention to?

What do you ignore? And so that's the point of my business to basically make that process simple, structured and repeatable. And what I have seen is that when you look at all of the noise out there about how to build your career, you can really see four themes that come up time and time again. And this is what I focus on.

Okay, I see these four themes, like the foundation of a house. You need a sturdy foundation to build a house. Equally, you need a sturdy foundation to build a career. And when people come to me lost and confused, and frustrated, and bored and burning out, it's because part of their foundation needs strengthening.

And so I really see these concepts not only as a foundation, but ultimately once you learn them, like a playbook that you can come back to again and again as inevitably who you are and what you want will evolve. Okay? So, the four areas are; your brand, your people, your mindset, and your time. Okay?

And these are what the first four episodes of this podcast are about. But I'm gonna take you through these concepts in a top level way in this episode. And the result of all of this is really clarity on where you're going, momentum towards that clarity, energy in terms of how you're showing up and what you're doing every day, and ultimately fulfillment.

All right, so the other thing just to note before I dive in is after I present each concept, I'm gonna prompt you to rate yourself on a scale of zero to five. How well do you think you are mapping onto that concept, how, how well do you......, how strong rather is the word do you think you are? Because then at the end of the podcast you can see, okay, which score is the lowest?

And that's where you can start. You can go back to that episode and listen to it, or you can use the wisdom you've gained from this conversation today to start taking action. They're all equally important and the way I present them just aids the narrative, but it's not like one is more important than the other.

But where I like to start is your brand. This is really about owning who you are, not who you think you should be. And as many of you know, I spent many years trying to be someone I thought I should be. Because really, again, if there's any other core philosophy besides these four areas, it's the idea that it takes less energy to be yourself.

Right, and that when you design your career around who you are, that's when you really have the most fun and create the most impact. And things feel the most energizing, right? Because think about how much energy it takes to do tasks and projects that you're not into, right? That's wasted energy. When I was working in tech, I like, didn't care about the products I was working on.

So every day I had to like psych myself up to care. Well, that's a lot of wasted energy, so, Plus I was, I was working in a role that didn't take advantage of my superpowers. I didn't get to manage anyone. I didn't really get to think about human behavior or personal growth. I was thinking about marketing tools and, you know, I was analyzing data.

It, it just wasn't, it wasn't a good fit for me. When you're not interested in something, or when you're doing tasks that aren't a good fit for the way that your brain is wired, it's always gonna put you at a disadvantage to compare it to people who are inherently interested in the topic, or whose brains are wired in a way that is better suited for those tasks.

Right? This is about getting into your sweet spot or alignment, as I often call it, so that things flow easier. You just get to be yourself, okay? This is what brand is about. The reason so many of us get tripped up is we force ourselves into environments that aren't a good fit either through inattention.

We're not even used to thinking about what we want. We're just used to saying, what's the task, and I'll execute on it. Or because we are forcing ourselves intentionally to say, this is what I should be doing. I should be good at this. This is the right path, quote unquote. Okay. But yeah, as I said before, when you kind of design your career around you, everything's just gonna come easier to you, and you're gonna then have all of this energy to put into creating impact, right?

An impact is how you find fulfillment and success, you know, however you wanna define success. The more impact we create, the more value we give to the world, the more. Success or fulfillment we find, you know, success could be just the feeling of impact, right? I'm not saying it in money, but also the more impact you create, often the more money you get.

The way I think about it is that your brand has three components, okay? And I'm gonna take you through them now and before I do, and I notice I'm not, I'm not gonna talk about passion or purpose. Because I think these words trip people up, they become very singular. Like there's one passion, there's one purpose, and they're kind of waiting for a level of conviction around that before taking action.

And it really doesn't work that way. Okay, so this is how I, I don't like to think about that at all. Passion or purpose in terms of creating an energizing career you love. You don't need to think about it. And it's actually a red herring, and I'll talk about it a little bit more in a bit. So the first thing I think about are your strengths.

I use this to think about the role you would have in any space. You know, what are the things that come so naturally to you? They don't really feel like work, right? If you got to pick what you got to do every day, the types of ways you would add value into a group of people, or an organization or a project, how would you want to add value?

If you could just design your role yourself, what would you get to do? Okay, so for me, when I was in advertising, I was an account person. And that role, you know, one of the beauties of that role is you get to do loads of different things. You know, you work with all of the teams in the business. So I was doing production and strategy and creative development and client management, and also managing people, right?

I had a team of people and that was my favorite part. That's what I was known for, is being a good people manager. And so now I have a role where basically I'm paid. Only to be a people manager. I'm a professional people manager. Okay, so do you really like looking at data? Are you great at developing strategy?

Do you love researching? Do you like brainstorming? Do you like coming up with creative ideas? Do you like negotiation? Are you really good at putting a project plan together? I mean, even what I'm saying is, A little bit formulaic. You can kind of describe what you wanna do, in any sense of the word.

Just describe what you would wanna do. If you got to pick, then you wanna take your strengths and you wanna apply them to the topics that interest you. Okay? This is the second component and this, this is kind of what I'm focused on instead of passion or purpose is interests. Like what are the problems you like to solve?

What are the things you like to read about and follow? What does your brain like thinking about?

When I was working in tech, one of the reasons it didn't work for me is because I was not interested in tech at all. What I am really interested in is personal growth, career and lifestyle design, psychology, and, and I get to think about all that stuff, habit formation, and I get to think about all of that as part of my role now.

Right. It's really interesting to me. I like reading about it in my spare time. Really think about what you like to think about and read about what interests you. This gives you indication on the kind of the spaces you wanna play and the industry that you would be in. And then you know, it's all well and good, doing something that plays to your strengths and your interests.

But if you're not making enough money to live the lifestyle you want, or if you're working with toxic people, or if you're working in a culture that doesn't support your boundaries, you know, then it's not gonna be a good fit. So you also wanna think alongside strengths and interests about your lifestyle priorities, your environmental priorities, you know, salary.

Culture team, temperament of your boss, size of the business, location of the business, you know, in person versus remote, et cetera. Okay? And so from this work, you can then begin to generate hypotheses of ideas and how you wanna evolve your career. You know, trust whatever your brain is giving to you. You don't have to have clarity and conviction at this stage.

You just have to have ideas that are based off of this work. And you're gonna need to let go of who you think you should be and start owning what's actually coming up. What actually feels good, right? I had to let go of this idea of being a management consultant, and working with high-growth tech startups.

I thought that that was the, you know, the, the stamp of approval, what would be good, but that really wasn't a good fit for me. Okay, so give yourself a rating, zero to five. How well are you in touch with your strengths, your interests, and your priorities? Because that level of clarity for yourself will allow you to articulate where the current fit is in your role and where the fit isn't.

And that's gonna allow you to start to craft something new, either internally where you are, or to start to think of hypotheses externally. Okay.

The second cornerstone is your people. Being able to have conversations to people about the questions, concerns, and fears of whatever it is you're working on. People are really the lifeblood of your career, and oftentimes we feel stuck because we're waiting for clarity and certainty before talking to people. We think we need to know exactly what we want before we have any networking conversations.

But this is missing a huge trick because there's a whole level of conversations that need to happen before you're asking for a job introduction, right? Having conversations with people is how you take your nascent ideas of how you could evolve your career and move through that confusion, right? Because you're gonna have a lot of questions, concerns, and fears, and the only way to answer them is to talk to people.

People are how you move through confusion towards clarity. We can hesitate because we're worried people might judge us, right? Like, I should know already. I shouldn't be confused. I need to look good. But you know, remember that as a species, we evolved by helping each other. We actually get a dopamine hit when we do right?

We are neurologically programmed to help each other. This is how we have thrived. Think about how you feel when someone asks you for help, right? If you have capacity to get on the call with them, it feels really good to share your hard one wisdom, so you know, make a list of all the questions, concerns, and fears you have, and think about who can help you answer those questions.

In those conversations, be as honest and authentic as you can because you know, you don't wanna put up a mask and pretend like all your shit's together and you know exactly what you want because you don't. If you present yourself like that, you're not gonna get the actual information you need to make decisions and move forward.

Plus, being authentic is vulnerable. Right saying, this is what I know, this is what I don't know. That's vulnerable. And vulnerability builds trust, right? And if you build trust on a call, that's a deeper relationship than a superficial one where you show up and you have all your shit together. You have to show your humanity to build relationships with people.

And being authentic is a great way to show your humanity. So this is gonna help you build stronger relationships through the process. Plus, it's gonna feel easier because you don't have to pretend to be someone you're not. Right, and through the process of talking to people, the objective as well is not only to get information, but also to find people that you wanna build ongoing relationships with that you wanna have on your personal board of directors.

So yeah, I mean, to summarize here, talking to people is how you take your half baked career ideas and turn them into clarity and momentum and opportunities towards an energizing career that you love. And it's also how you build a network of supporters and mentors and champions. So give yourself a rating on a scale of zero to five.

How strong do you think you are when it comes to asking people for help and having conversations? Okay. Third cornerstone is your mindset, and this is about being intentionally open and productive with your thoughts. Oftentimes, the reason that we're stuck in our career is because we're stuck in our mind in some capacity.

Fixed and closed narratives are one of the biggest hurdles that we have to creating an energizing career you love. And so what I mean by that, like typical fixed and closed narratives that I hear are what I want isn't possible. It's normal to not enjoy your job, like jobs shouldn't be fun. It's too late for me to do whatever the thing is.

I'm too old. I'm too young. I'm not good enough. Maybe I'll fail. I'm far behind. Other people are further ahead than me. I'm not where I should be. Right? And so as I reel those out, you can hear that these are very negative beliefs and they're very closed. They're very finite, right? It's just, there's no possibility.

It's just like this is how it is. They're definitive in the way they're articulated. Right, and when it's definitive, there's no space for exploration. This is where the growth is. This is where the opportunity is, to learn that your beliefs are not the truth. The thing about our beliefs is we collect evidence for them and we collect a lot of evidence for them so that we believe they are true.

But what I'm gonna show you, I'm gonna try and give an example here that demonstrates what I'm talking about. And this is a relatively meaty concept, which I'm trying to fit into, you know, five minutes on a podcast. So I'm gonna do my best. See, the way I like to explain it is, you know, the circumstances of your life are just facts.

Okay? So, the circumstances of my life are the facts of my life when it comes to my career. Here's a couple facts. You know, I'm 38 years old. I live in Brooklyn, New York. I'm a career coach. I make X amount of money. I got my education at X School. I work five days a week, whatever. Those are just a couple facts.

It is the meaning that we assign to those facts or I assign to those facts that creates our reality, right? So when I say the meaning that we assign to the facts of our life, what I mean by that is our thoughts, right? The meaning we assign to the facts of our life. Are our thoughts, right? The little phrases that you hear in your brain, okay?

And these phrases that you hear in your brain create our feelings, okay? And then how we feel drives our actions. The reason we do or don't do anything is because of how we think. It'll make us feel, our feelings drive our actions, and then our actions create our results. Okay. So everything comes from our interpretation of our life, our interpretation of our life.

Our thoughts create our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions. Our actions create our results. Okay? So learning that our interpretation of the things that are happening in our life are optional, right? And this is where we have agency to choose narratives that support us. This is how we begin to create change in our life.

So let me give you an example. Let's say I was considering changing my career. Maybe I, I'm, I got bored. I'm like, career coaching isn't a feeling, this is not true at all. This is not true. I love what I do, but let's say that I was, you know, I wasn't feeling as energized about career coaching anymore. I was thinking, I'm not sure that this is right.

I don't, I don't know. Something is not feeling the way it used to. Okay, so, I could have this situation happening for me where I'm feeling, I don't know, this doesn't feel right. I'm kind of thinking about interior design. I keep thinking about it. I keep reading about it. Interior design keeps knocking on my brain, but I am, I keep telling myself, it's too late.

It's too late. I'm too old. That is just an example, a hypothetical example. So the way I would coach on that or explain that around mindset is as follows. The fact is I am 38 years old and I'm curious about interior design. That's a fact. Those are the two facts. In this example, if my interpretation is it's too late to change my career path, right?

Then I feel resigned. Right. I don't explore other options and I make do with my existing career path, right? Like I make do, I don't explore other options and the result I create is I don't pursue my ideas.

But instead I chose to interpret the same facts differently. So the fact is still, I'm 38 years old. I'm curious about interior design. I could choose to interpret that as I bet my experience could be useful. I wonder how my experience could be useful. I wonder how I can take what I've learned and apply it to a new industry.

That might make me feel curious. And from a place of curiosity, I'm much more likely to explore what it would take to get into interior design, how I could do it alongside my current work, how I might be able to combine it with my current work, what I've learned from my career so far that could support me, right?

Because I'm curious, I'm not resigned. And that curiosity comes from, I wonder how my experience could be useful, or I wonder what it would take. To change my career now instead of it's too late. Okay? So you can see how a different perspective creates different feelings, actions, and results.

Okay? And this is what is called intentional thought creation, right? Noticing. When we have a closed or fixed mindset that's keeping us stuck and choosing to think something else instead, something else that is believable, but that supports us to take the actions we want. Okay? And this requires mindfulness cuz we have to watch our thoughts and it requires practice.

It's not just one and John. But the main thing to take away from this is you are in charge of the narratives you put in your brain. Learning how to manage your mind intentionally helps you create emotional peace, productive actions, and ultimately the results you want. Okay, so if you're feeling stuck, do a free write about why you're feeling stuck, right?

How do you feel? Why are you stuck? And you're gonna see on the page all of your fixed and closed beliefs. Okay, you're gonna know them. And, and those alarm bells. When you hear those fixed and closed beliefs, you know that that's what's keeping you stuck. If you hear that in your head, you know that those are not what's helping you.

And then what you can do instead is start to write intentionally about the same situation, and, and look to try and cultivate beliefs that are curious, open, optimistic, productive. And choose the ones from that new free write that resonate with you and practice thinking about them. You have to practice thinking about them.

It's not just one, one time, I select this thought and now I'm a new person. You have to practice thinking again and again, different sets of thoughts that are believable to you, right? Because neurons that fire together wire together. So the more time you practice thinking something different about yourself, the more that will be your default narrative.

So the point here is the stories you tell yourself, create everything else. So speak to yourself with compassion. Champion yourself. Be open. Look for what is working and be cautiously optimistic. This is how you create new things and a different reality for yourself. Okay, so give yourself a rating, zero to five.

How strong do you think you are when it comes to being open and productive with your thoughts? Last, not least, certainly not least, is your time. And I present this really as how you set, communicate, and hold the boundaries on your time that you need to thrive. Sometimes the reason that we are so unhappy is because we're saying yes to everything, right?

We're not saying no, we don't have boundaries. We aren't creating space for ourselves to rest and play and recharge. More time at work doesn't equal more success and happiness. Right. One of my favorite, favorite stats is, well, Malcolm Gladwell popularized, you know, oh, no, no maybe even two decades ago. This idea that, you know, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, I think from outliers, but I could, I could be wrong which book that comes from?

But you know that stat is taken from a study and he didn't include the full study in his book. No, no Shade against Malcolm Gladwell, but just he didn't include the full study cuz he was making another point. But what's important to recognize? Is the full study in the context of this conversation, because what that study says is that 10,000 hours can only be successfully realized if they're combined with 12,500 hours of deliberate downtime and 30,000 hours of sleep, right?

So notice that's 25% more deliberate downtime than work time, cuz you can't rush your way to expertise. Your brain needs time when it's not working and sleeping to process and connect the dots and form ideas. You know, it's, it's, it's no wonder we often get our best ideas away from the desk, right in the shower, on a walk, just not in front of the computer.

Think about how much more efficient and creative you are after a vacation or a good night's sleep, or time away. If we're work, work, work, work, we're dipping into our reserves and our brain is not operating as well as it could do, and you're gonna see the impact on the quality of work you're able to deliver, or ultimately you're gonna burn out.

We have to create space in our life to rest and recharge, so, you know, decide what activities energize you. And decide when you wanna do them every week and block space for them on your calendar. You know, decide when you're gonna close your laptop and block, block that on your calendar, and then tell your boss and your team and you know, if this is your kind of a standalone example in your company for this, that's okay.

Right? Be the example of what sustainability looks like. Don't regress to the mean, don't let other people's. Unhealthy behavior or lack of self-awareness mean that you have to have that too. Look, we've inherited a very toxic work culture, especially in the United States working all the time and not really taking vacation and being available on Slack at all hours, and it's incredibly toxic and unhealthy, and we don't need to maintain it.

We have to be an example. Of what sustainability looks like. We have to change this culture. It's absolutely brutal and unsustainable. So yeah, you know, setting and holding and communicating your boundaries, you know, your boss's reaction to you. Setting your boundaries will tell you everything you need to know about the sustainability of your environment.

If they react positively, great. And if they don't and you aren't able to do the things you need to stay healthy and productive, then this is time to move on to a different team or leave the business entirely. You have to get good at this no matter what. Oftentimes people think a new job will fix their burnout, but if they haven't learned how to, Manage their to-do list and close their laptop and set healthy boundaries and create space for activities that fuel them.

You're just gonna recreate that in your new space, and if this is something you really struggle with, I really recommend the book 4,000 Weeks, which is kind of about restructuring, re redefining your relationship to your to-do list. So give yourself a rating, zero to five. How strong do you think you are when it comes to setting and holding the boundaries you need between your work and your personal life?

Okay, so those are the four fundamental concepts.

Look at your ratings. Wherever the lowest rating is, that's where you should start. And if boundaries are low in any capacity, I really recommend starting there because you have to create space for yourself to rest and recharge in order to do all of the other work. So yeah, it's rare that people get fives, four and fives in all of these categories.

If you are awesome, you're doing great. Really well done. But if you aren't, you're so normal and you're listening to exactly the right podcast and you're in exactly the right place. So yeah, wherever you got lower scores, that's where to start. And you can go back and listen to the first four episodes of this podcast to get more in depth detail.

All right guys. Have a great week. 

Hey, if you're ready to create an energizing career you love, one that is simply an extension of who you are and how you want to live your life. Then I wanna invite you to schedule a consultation. We'll get to the bottom of what's going on for you. And exactly where you need to focus to bring your career and life into alignment. It's free. Just head on over to to find a time that works for you, or if you're enjoying and getting value from these episodes, I'd love you to leave a short review on whatever podcast app you use.

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