So, let me begin by saying: Here's some irony for you... For years, I've struggled to properly explain what I do for work. Funny, right? The gal that has spent the last 15+ years of her life helping professionals with their personal brands, job searches, and career planning doesn't know what to label herself. Saying I'm a "career coach" has never seemed to properly convey the job. I feel that title makes light of the important work myself and my Work It Daily teammates do every day. And, I feel the term "career counselor" really speaks to those folks you find at high schools and colleges. But recently, a conversation about the evolution of Work It Daily provided me with a big ah-ha moment. Ever since that, I've wanted to post the following... "My name is J.T. and I'm a Career Therapist." (Finally! I said it.) I've known for a long time this is really my job. Each day, myself and a team of trained career support specialists give people a trusted, secure, and private place to talk honestly about their careers. This is no small thing. As humans, our identities, and subsequently, our happiness are tightly tied to what we do for work. When you spend 40+ hours each week doing a job, it can't help but define you and impact your ability to feel successful and satisfied in life. So, while I'm not a doctor (and I don't play one on TV), I am a career therapist. And, I'm no longer ashamed to say it. Why would I be ashamed? Glad you asked! Because getting career support is still seen as "taboo". When I decided to leave corporate America to become a career coach, my friends and colleagues thought I'd lost my mind. One former college classmate asked me if I was going to become some sort of new-age-hoohey-type (his words, not mine). I lost the respect of some people who thought I was throwing away a perfectly good career track (six-figure female HR executive), to do something weird. To them, people who used career coaches were "broken" and "unemployable." But over the years, these same people circled back, many of them asking to chat with me about their own career challenges. Still, those early years of criticism from my peers gave me doubts. But, fast forward to today and here's what I know... School teaches us a lot of things, but learning how to identify and pursue a meaningful career throughout our lifetime is not one of them. With more than 70 percent of the working population feeling disengaged and dissatisfied with their career success, we have an epidemic of professional happiness going on right now. And sadly, people don't seek the help they need. Even though we use trained professionals to fix all sorts of problems in our lives i.e. doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, physical therapists, etc. we still naively think we should be able to figure out our career problems on our own. The good news is, I think the thousands of people who have become members of Work It Daily in the last year would tell you: getting a little career therapy isn't a sign of weakness, it's a path to greatness. We refer to them as #WIDwarriors, and they're changing the world, one dream job at a time. So, to the millions of people sitting in silent disgust and desperation with their careers and failing to get the help they need (you might be one of them?), I say:
I was watching a video a while back by Ishita Gupta. She's a young woman who started an online magazine called Fear.less that highlights the stories of people who have overcome their fears.
In this video, she shares how she came to learn environment was more powerful than willpower.
This resonated deeply with me.
I can look at numerous times in my life where the environment I was in impacted my ability to succeed.
Running from Negativity
Years ago, I was working at a start-up company with a bunch of fellow young 20-somethings. We were all hired around the same time and were quite close. It was a fun environment in the beginning. But then, the company started to tank and we managed to survive a layoff that cut the staff in half.
As you can imagine, the effect this layoff had on morale was deep.
In particular, all of the young people had never been through a layoff before, so they immediately became cynical and over-analyzed everything that happened in the office from that day forward.
The environment became toxic overnight. I began hating going to work every day. That's when I heard there was going to be an opening for a person to start traveling the country to do in-person trainings for our customers. I immediately went to my boss and pitched myself for the job.
My goal was to get away from my peers who were bringing me down. It worked and I got the job.
I was suddenly out of the office and spending time with the people who loved our company. Not only did I enjoy the job, but it gave me the experience I needed to eventually snag an even better position with another company a couple years later.
Meanwhile, I slowly watched my peers back at the office either get fired for bad attitudes or quit because they couldn't handle the negativity.
I often look back and thank my lucky stars I decided to remove myself from the undesirable environment I was in.
Leaping Towards Positivity
When I decided to leave Corporate America in 2001, many of my peers thought I was nuts.
I was a female executive making $200,000+/year in a high-profile job with lots of perks. So imagine their reaction when I told them I was giving up all I had worked for to become a "career coach."
Let's just say more than a few people stopped talking to me. It would have been easy to give up based on the reaction I got from my colleagues.
Back then, career coaching wasn't what it is today. People looked down upon using a career coach as something you did if you were a failure and couldn't get a "real job."
But, I knew in my heart our entire society was looking at career development incorrectly and believed it was time to find a way to coach the masses on the new rules to professional success and satisfaction. So, instead of giving up, I went searching for a new set of peers!
I spent time networking online. I set up informational interviews with people I admired. I did whatever I could to develop a group of colleagues that shared my passion for career coaching and the need to help people. What I found was an incredible group of experts, many of whom are/have been Work It Daily contributors.
Somehow, I knew if I didn't surround myself with positive influences at the start of my journey to be a career coach, I wouldn't have the willpower to stick with my bigger dream of changing the way Americans looked at career development.
Fast forward to today and I can tell you Work It Daily would not exist if I hadn't created an environment to support my efforts.
Boost Your Willpower: Find Like-Minded Folks to Spend Time With!
Almost anything worth succeeding in takes willpower--and lots of it! (i.e. losing weight, finding a job, etc.) Yet, since the majority of us don't have enough willpower on our own to stick with the routine necessary to reach our goals, we know we need some help.
That's where environment comes in.
The more you can surround yourself with the right people and mindsets, the better chance you'll have of sticking with your dream and making it a reality. Now, while this may seem obvious, it's amazing how many of us continue to pursue our goals by ourselves.
Or even worse, spend time with people who criticize us for having dreams and the way we are approaching them.
If this sounds like you, then it's time to focus on improving your environment as a way to boost your willpower!
When it comes to improving our career situation, I find a simple environmental formula can boost willpower and success. It starts by participating in live chats (either in-person or online) with a group of positive people who are trying to reach the same goal as you.
Then, I encourage people to seek out one or two people they really feel the most connected to and start a little accountability program between them. Nothing formal, just regular emails to one another updating on their progress and checking in on how one another is doing.
Live Chats + A Buddy = Success
By having someone you know care about your success and want to help you succeed (and vice versa), you create a strong environment of positivity that will inspire you to keep taking action towards your goals.
So, the next time you find yourself wanting to throw in the towel and give up, ask yourself what you can do to improve your environment. I promise if you find a way to run from the negativity and leap toward the positivity, you'll find less of a need for willpower!