My career journey has been unorthodox as far as traditional standards go. But in today’s world that’s moving towards a gig economy and the desire for deeper career fulfillment, it could seem pretty normal. Either way, it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster with some very high highs, and a few big lows. From door-to-door sales, fundraising, event planning, all kinds of marketing, sales, and public speaking, it feels like I’ve had many lives in my short 10-year career span.
In April 2017, I made a really big decision; the biggest, most challenging, yet empowering decision I’ve ever made. I chose to leave what—from the outside—seemed to be my dream job.
I was working at the self-proclaimed largest nutrition school in the world, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, immersed in content I loved while being surrounded by an incredible team. I was creating fun content, hosting live conferences, webinars, and broadcasts, but for many reasons, it was time for me to move on. The next eight months were a whirlwind of solo travel, freelance work, applying to jobs, and throwing proverbial spaghetti at the wall and seeing what stuck. The world was my oyster. I could do anything I wanted—now was the time.
But endless options translated into the paradox of choice, leaving me paralyzed, stressed, anxious, and unable to make a decision. Did I want to be a health coach? Did I want a full-time job? If yes, what industry? Did I want to freelance? Did I even want to stay in NYC?
The internal conversations were endless and very confusing.
In January 2018, I landed a job at a preschool as the sales and marketing director. “Finally,” I thought, “the spaghetti has stuck!” While a preschool might seem like a bit of a departure from my health and wellness world, I was excited to focus on something other than health, work four days per week, and use the other day to hone in on my passions.
A short four months later, our small team was called into the office. We were told that the school would be closing and that our last day was two weeks from then. While I wasn’t entirely surprised based on my experiences thus far, I was disappointed, angry, and fearful. I went back into my office and immediately started applying for jobs. It was like I had time traveled six months backward—I was stressed, anxious, and kept throwing that spaghetti at the wall.
I was exhausted. I spread myself so thin and had no clarity of the direction I wanted to go. My ego took a hit every time I didn’t get an interview and each time I heard “we’re going in a different direction.” I felt like I was trying to online date in the wild west.
My ego took a hit every time I didn’t get an interview. I felt like I was trying to online date in the wild west.
It goes something like this: you scan LinkedIn for what feels like an eternity searching for “the one.” You spend hours perfecting your resume and cover letter before submitting it knowing that it’s landing in a stack of resumes that all look relatively the same. You look for mutual connections and send an inMail to the hiring manager. If you’re lucky, they reply requesting that first phone interview. You’ve got butterflies. You’re excited. You’re nervous. It has to go well.
It does! Or so you think. Weeks go by and you don’t hear a thing. This only makes you more anxious and insecure. So you follow up. And then you follow up again. You hit refresh, refresh, refresh every 15 minutes on your inbox. It’s all you can think about.
This was me. Pushing so hard to land that perfect job.
It finally happened in September 2018. I got my offer letter from a microbial genomics start-up that had just raised over $80 million. “Perfect,” I thought, “a start-up that’s well funded, so it should be really stable.” Well, fast forward six months. We were raided by the FBI and closed for good in October 2019. While I wasn’t totally shocked, it did happen suddenly and wasn’t aligned with what we were told. I was, however, angry, frustrated, sad, confused, and unsure about what to do next. How was this possible? How have I lost two jobs in a year and a half? Even though I didn’t lose either job for lack of talent or skill, it still felt personal.
I’ve always been someone who takes great pride in my work. I love to do work I feel passionate about. Feeling stuck and unclear for a year and a half was embarrassing and hurtful. I’m also big on reflection and understanding what lessons from my experiences I can apply to my life to lead with more purpose, joy, and fulfillment—job or no job.
Losing that job was hard. It was painful and sad—it still is. But I realized I have a choice. I have the power in the situation; the situation does not have power over me. I can lead with positivity, integrity, and meaning, or I can sit every day in anxiety and stress. Of course, I have negative feelings all. the. time. But if I get the choice, I choose the former; happiness, contentment, peace, and joy are choices.
No, we will not always be able to choose the positive feelings. There will be days that feel insurmountable. Things will shake us. There will be times when we feel like we can’t get back up, but the day we choose to make positive emotions our default is the day we get to give ourselves the gift of a really great life.
While many of these lessons have foundations in losing my job, I think they’re applicable to so many areas of life.
Feel the pain
I’m a repressor. I like feeling happy. My motto even used to be “no bad days.” Because as Gabby Bernstein says in Super Attractor, “feeling good feels good.” But when we sit with our pain, letting ourselves become more comfortable with negative emotions, we are able to fully let go and move forward.
I’ve been using this space to try to deal with many of the things that I’ve pushed away for so long. This is very difficult, hard work that I’m only at the precipice of. There are a lot of tears, anger, resentment, and fear, but through these feelings, I am gaining a deeper sense of self-awareness, confidence, power, and best of all, contentment.
Clarity is crucial
Turns out throwing spaghetti at the wall doesn’t result in a lot of success.
Clarity in all parts of our life is going to help us reap more rewards. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t get it. When you do know what you want, life becomes so much easier. Things just start to feel like they’re in flow.
Through this process, I decided that I didn’t want to work for a certain type of company (early-stage start-ups) so I stopped applying to them. In turn, I was able to focus more positive energy on companies I actually want to work for. Turns out, these are the types of companies that like me too! I’ve had more replies and inbound inquiries than I did the first time around.
I have so many ideas, interests, and hobbies being super clear is really hard for me. I think it’s because I’m scared. What if I go down one path and it doesn’t work out? But, what if it does?
Through journaling, meditation, embracing quiet and space, and really turning inward, I’ve discovered what I want. I’ve re-defined my values—what’s important to me—and taken action based on those values.
I literally wrote down, “I want to get paid to XYZ.” This manifestation, if you will, is becoming more reality than manifestation as time goes on, and it’s been so exciting to watch this take form.
Be patient and open
I love to control things. For years, I have tried to control every aspect of my life, pushing forward no matter what—even when the signs weren’t there because I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.
I can only imagine the kind of energy this pushiness and neediness gave off. No wonder I didn’t get jobs that were right for me! No one wants to “date” the needy girl. I was shoving open doors that were only half-open to me. All I found were dead-ends.
I learned the ugly truth: as much as we’d like to, we cannot control all of the outcomes. What we can control is the work we put in and how we react.
I put in the work towards the things that I want and let that be enough. When I am patient for the right thing to come back from my efforts, I am able to open up and allow space for the unexpected, which is always where the magic happens.
Instead of spending eight hours a day, five days a week applying to jobs, I set time aside to apply for jobs and use the other time doing things that I love, being creative, and just being alone with my thoughts and feelings. It’s been pretty cool to see what comes up!
Trust your intuition
If I had truly trusted my intuition, I would have never started at either of the companies that closed. Something in me knew it wasn’t right, but I felt like I needed to take a job to start making money and be “worthy” again.
Sometimes I get confused with what is “mind over matter” and what is “intuition.” My meditation, journaling, yoga, and breathing practices helped me learn what my intuition is and how to know when it’s talking to me. I’ve learned that our intuition, our “gut feelings,” are pretty undeniable.
If you are having trouble like I did, try thinking back to a moment when you were like “I knew it!” Dissect that event. What was that feeling? How did you know? Remember that feeling when you’re questioning something.
Be gentle with yourself
Guess what? I’m only human, and so are you. Being human is messy and really hard. If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty hard on yourself. It’s hard not to be! It feels like there are so many expectations to fulfill.
I’ve realized that the expectations I think I need to fulfill and exceed have only been set by myself. I’ve slowly learned to listen to what my heart and body are telling me to find more ways of being confident and comfortable being me.
That might mean spending a day in bed watching Hallmark movies instead of going to a networking event that I “should” be going to, or maybe it means not replying to text messages right away. It could even be as simple as smiling at yourself in the mirror or using positive self-affirmations.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the past two years is that life is not linear, and neither are we. Life is dynamic, constantly changing, shifting, and throwing us curveballs. While it might feel like we take five steps forward only to take three back, there is opportunity for growth and learning as we teeter back and forth. When we can take a mindful minute to tune in with who we are, what we want, and how we’ll get there, we become confident that something good will soon be coming to us.