Career advice

  • Dealing with a void in your life

    In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to a few of you, and I heard the word “void” and the idiom “falling into a black hole” a couple of times. From personal experience, I can only describe the feeling of falling into a black hole as a period of pure hopelessness and confusion. It usually happens when one (or more) important things in your life suddenly end or fall apart: being fired, burnout, graduation, job hunting after ‘first job syndrome’, or not being able to execute your profession anymore due to (external) circumstances. Whatever it is, you have to deal with a void in your life and redefine your goals and purpose.

    What does this void feel like?

    When your circumstances change without warning, the world kind of crumbles around you. You’re left in this no man’s land, so to say. Let’s take being fired as an example as I have experienced this myself, and it’s easy to talk about. When fired, your daily routine changes from one day to the next. Your income changes. Your sense of purpose changes.

    At first you have this sea of time where you get to process your feelings about what just happened. Then slowly after a while you get used to the idea and new situation. But then, not much later, comes this big, black hole. Days are really long. You no longer have the energy or motivation to get out of bed because you’re not needed. You also lose a sense of direction in your life. You no longer know what your next move is going to be. You might even lose a piece of your identity.

    One thing’s for sure…

    You want this situation to end. Sometimes you have the strength to get out of the void by reading books, speaking to friends, and finding new energy in exercise. Other times…you need a nudge. Either way, you will get out of this situation. Take your time! You are right where you are supposed to be in life.

    In case you’re in a void right now, and you’re ready to get back on the horse, I’ve outlined the steps that helped me to recuperate.

    How to get out of no man’s land

    Remember there’s no timeline and that this is a process that varies per person. It also depends on how you got into the void in the first place. However, I do believe there are some main principles to follow if you want to leave no man’s land and get your sense of direction back. Here’s how I got out of my black holes (multiple times…).

    Goals, vision, dreams

    First things first – you need to know where you’re heading. There’s nothing more important to set a point on the horizon so that you can make decisions geared towards that goal. You can’t make empowered decisions if you don’t know where you’re headed.

    It’s time to go back to the drawing board. What is you 1, 5 and 10 year vision for yourself? Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing?

    Don’t just write down your career goals. Better yet, leave those out at first. Answer questions like:

    • where do you see yourself living in 5 years?
    • what are your relationships like? Friends, family, romantic
    • what goals do you have concerning your health?
    • what goals do you have concerning your wealth?
    • what type of person do I aspire to be?

    After that, you can define career goals! What type of company do you see yourself working at? In what type of position? Who are you serving? What tasks are on your to-do list? Be as specific as possible. Visualize yourself living your best life. What does that look like?

    Leave victim mode behind…

    Whenever our life changes, it’s always easy to put the blame on others. “I was fired by my boss” or “my burnout happened because my boss kept pushing me over my limits” are easy to say. I’m going to be hard on you right now, but in my coaching practice, you only get to say this once or twice to blow off some steam, but then we’re done playing the victim. Why? Because as a grown adult, you are responsible for your own well-being, setting boundaries, personal development, happiness, success and life’s trajectory.

    Sure, being fired because the economy has been affected by the pandemic is not your responsibility. You can’t control that. However, you can control how deep you go into this black hole. You can also control your emotional reaction to it and how long you take to pick up the pieces in order to move on. Yes, it’s always easier to speak of things in hindsight — “I should have done this or I should have done that”. But that, too, is not going to help you move the situation along. That is why forgiveness is such a big piece of stepping out of victim mode. Forgiveness of others (aka your boss), but also forgiveness of yourself – you did the best you could in the situation with the knowledge, power and resources you had at that time.

    The beautiful thing about stepping out of victim mode is that you get to create a new life with your newfound knowledge. Now that you are aware of your ability to respond to situations, you get to be in the driver’s seat of your life and make decisions that empower you. You get to set boundaries that serve you!

    I could write a book about how liberating this feeling is and why it’s so important to take responsibility of your life. But for now, I’m going to leave it at this for the sake of the length of this blog.

    …and step into creation mode

    I like creation mode better than action mode, but essentially they’re the same thing. There’s only one way to say this: the only way to get out of the situation is to go through it. Nothing changes by listening to others, reading more books, watching more documentaries….It only changes by you DOING the things you said you wanted to do.

    Your next steps depend on your personal situation — and the goals you have defined for yourself. For some it’s applying to a new job, for others it’s starting a business. Again, you’re in the driver’s seat. You get to decide!

    Important for creation mode is breaking down larger goals into smaller steps. Take one large goal (‘finding a new job’) and create subtasks (i.e. do research, select 5 jobs, create resume, write motivation letter). Realistically schedule the different tasks.

    New habits = new life

    To stay in creation mode, you’ll need to put some new, healthy, successful habits in place. This can range from putting up boundaries to food, exercise, sleep, networking, communicating and less screen time. What do you need to achieve your new goals?

    Self-love for DAYS

    Maybe the most important on this list: self-love, compassion & patience. There’s no reason to get down on yourself during this process. If you’ve done the things above, you are already on your way to success. With anything in life, there are days you feel great and there are days when things aren’t going as planned. The most important thing is getting back on the horse!

    You can allow yourself a day on the couch to wallow. There’s nothing to feel guilty about. Down days are part of the process. Just make sure to re-commit every time!

    Make life easier and fun for yourself. Do things that make you happy! Balance is important. So after a day of working hard on your new goals, schedule in an hour or two to get back to yourself by doing things you enjoy. Reward yourself during the journey.

    Breathe <3

    Breathe – life has a way of working out. Always. Trust the process and trust yourself. It might feel as if you don’t have all the answers and you have no idea what your next steps are. But I promise that by stepping into creation mode with compassion for yourself is going to get you through. Do what you need to do: talk to professionals, talk to friends, read books/blogs, listen to podcasts, practice new skills….You get to decide your next steps!

    Let me know if you are at this point and need a little nudge! My inbox is open 24/7.

  • Don’t get overwhelmed by a job search

    Even in times of a pandemic, the job search continues and there are a 1000 jobs posted daily on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed or Monsterboard. Choosing the right job can be really exhausting. You’re confronted with questions like: what do I actually want? And am I good enough for this job? So much so that looking for a job might be more stressful than staying in your current situation. Time to do something about that! In this post, I want to give you some tips on how to not get overwhelmed by a job search.

    Well, what DO you want?

    There’s always a reason you’re looking for a new job. Whether you’re unhappy in your current one. Or you just graduated and are ready for your first job. You must know why you are looking for a job. With that “why” comes a list of must haves and nice to haves. What are some of your non-negotiables?

    Consider these things for your must haves:

    • Size of the company
    • Job description
    • Culture
    • Salary
    • Working days/hours

    I’m sure there are more things you consider important, like the distance from your house or the size of your future team. Write down a list of things you absolutely look for in your next job.

    You might know all of the things you want – but are they actually good for you? Let me give you an example: you might want a job that pays a lot, but if that means you have to consistently do things you’re not comfortable with – is the money worth it? Is it worth the stress? If you’ve thought about it and answered yes – go ahead and apply. Otherwise, keep reading.

    “What am I supposed to do?”

    This question is in my top 5 FAQ. “Should I be a marketing manager or should I start my own business?”

    To be honest, it’s difficult to answer. As a coach, I can’t give you the answers, I can only ask you more (efficient) questions so that you get closer to your answer. However, there are a number of things to consider when you want to know what type of job gives you the most fulfilment.

    It takes a deep dive into your interests, skills, behavior, preferences, childhood, and life path to figure out what you are meant to be doing on this planet. To manage your expectations: it’s a process you’ll go through that can take anywhere from a week to a couple of years depending on your willingness to dive deep and take action. Use the Career Compass to guide you!

    Meet your enemy – fear gremlins

    My biggest pet peeve when it comes to job descriptions — is the fact that the employer lists this HUGE list of requirements. You need to have a degree, 10 years experience, extra certifications, speak 10 languages, be a fun-loving, friendly, supportive person who is able to generate 1 million in a month and juggle 20 projects at once without complaining.

    Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you understand what I’m saying, right?

    The first thought that comes to mind when reading the description is “am I that person?”.

    Am I good enough to do this job? Am I the one they’re looking for? I meet some requirements, but definitely not all. What if I can’t do the job? What if I get rejected? But what if I do get the job? What are their expectations of me? I’m sure I can meet some expectations, but not all – I’m not a fun-loving, friendly, supportive colleague all the time, I have my off days….

    So to sum it up, you are most likely dealing with a fear gremlin named “I’m not good enough”. The feeling of self-doubt is what causes the overwhelm. All of a sudden, you start questioning your previous accomplishments, your degree and your skills. Only because you can’t tick off every box in the description.

    It’s easier said than done, but the only way to get rid of that “I’m not good enough” voice is to face your fears, gain more confidence, and embody success.

    Fears create stress

    The reason the “I am not good enough” gremlin creates overwhelm and stress in your life is because it triggers a certain response in your body. At the root of stress is fear. Fears activate your fight, flight or freeze response. So whenever gremlin “I’m not good enough” pops up – even if you’re unaware of the fear – your brain and body react.

    Listen, you’re already under a lot of pressure. Work is busy, a social life is busy, keeping up with trends on social media is busy, finances are tough…and then, boom, pandemic…. We’re always busy. Always “on”. Adding the fear of “I’m not good enough” while job hunting then creates more havoc. And is probably the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    Hey, it’s ok!

    We’ve all experienced the above scenario at least once in our lives. Recognizing the situation for what it is, can sometimes be enough to “solve” the issue. Being aware of the fear gremlin is a big step in the right direction. From there you can take action steps to overcoming the fear. You’re human, you have feelings and fears. It’s all part of this beautiful experience! Embrace it.

    Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your fears won’t disappear overnight. And that’s ok! It’s a continuous process consisting of (small) daily actions that change your life over time. For example, if you feel like taking a course will allow you to become the next marketing manager, you’ll need to establish daily habits that allow you to finish the course (cum laude, of course ;)). Once you’ve finished the course and have proven to yourself that you are smart enough/good enough to apply for that position, your confidence rises. You’ll have enough ammunition to fight mr. fear gremlin!

    Don’t get overwhelmed by a job search

    Understanding the root of the problem – fear, insecurities, limiting beliefs, old patterns – is the key to success here. Once you’ve gained enough insight on these topics and what they mean to you, I promise you’ll be able to handle this situation.

    Now, for some practical tips:

    • JUST APPLY – even if you feel you are “underqualified”. You now know that’s not true. It’s mr. fear gremlin talking.
    • Understand that recruiters write these job descriptions thoroughly to weed out unmotivated job hunters.
    • Recruiters are required to list all the (impossible) requirements because their boss expects them to. It’s literally their job to find the best possible candidate. Obviously they’re going to write out high expectations so that they attract the right people.
    • The best possible candidate for a job is not someone who has all the written down requirements. The best possible candidate is someone with the right attitude and mindset (aka you). You see the job description & are up for the challenge. That’s what recruiters are looking for.
    • In fact, if I were a recruiter and I would receive an application from someone who ticks off all of the requirements, I would be skeptical. This person wouldn’t be able to grow in the position…?!
    • If you have enough experience to do >65% of the job description, it’s your sign: APPLY. You’ll learn the rest.
    • The job description is written so that you can grow into the position. Once you apply and get the job, it’s your mission to EMBODY the job description they gave you.
    • If you do get rejected after all of your effort – that’s not a reflection on you. They’re missing out. Life has bigger plans for you! The universe always knows best. Trust the process. Trust the timing of your life. Rejection is redirection.

    Grab a virtual coffee

    Listen, I’ve had 6 jobs in 5 years, and I’ve had over 24 job interviews in that time. This process is all too real for me. I am also living proof that you DO get to have a job that brings you joy and fulfilment…once you adopt a positive mindset & know your purpose. When you need me, you know where to find me!

    Much love from my side of the screen <3

  • How to make the right decision

    You’re at a crossroads. You either turn left. Or you turn right. But how do you know which direction to choose? Making the “right” decision is always a gamble. But there are a few ways to ensure you’re making a decision that is empowering you and that’ll lead you into your desired outcome. In this blog, I’ll give you some pointers on how to make the right decision. Whatever that means…

    If you’ve never read the fig tree metaphor from The Bell Jar, I highly recommend you do that now. It’s one of my favorite passages. It helped me come to terms with decision making.

    Indecision – as you can see in the metaphor above, leaves you with nothing.

    And I get it, making decisions is overwhelming. There are a million possible outcomes. Choosing one path sometimes means saying “no” to another beautiful opportunity. All figs in the fig tree are beautiful opportunities. By choosing one, you can have a wonderful next step in your life. Choosing none, means missing out on everything.

    What the fig tree taught me

    Nothing in life is certain, except for the fact that you come into this life and leave it. Everything inside of that time frame is a matter of choice. Everything is a choice. From big things like deciding to try for children to picking out your dinner in the supermarket. Every choice sets you one step further down a chosen path.

    The fig tree metaphor has shown me that it doesn’t matter what you choose, there will always be an outcome. Some more desirable than others, sure. But every choice leads me to a new branch, and eventually a fig.

    This metaphor has proven its value multiple times. Especially this year — the absolute shit show we call 2020. (Let’s not get into politics right now…but damn…what a year).

    How are you making decisions?

    When it comes to making decisions, one thing is certain: you have no certainty when it comes to the outcome. Learning to embrace the unknown is one of the first steps you’ll need to take in order to feel comfortable in your decision making process.

    However, we CAN look at the WAY you’re making decisions. What are your decisions based on? And what are your influences?

    Are you making decisions based on fear? Or are you making conscious, empowering decisions? This distinction might not always be so obvious. You might think you’re making empowering decisions for yourself, while objectively they’re all just fear based. The ability to raise your awareness and create a helicopter view of your problem in order to solve it is really crucial.

    What does a fear based decision look like?

    An example of a fear based decision would be not leaving your current job. Even though it makes you unhappy. Even though you snooze your alarm every morning, dreading to go to the office. You’re afraid of leaving because you don’t know what other jobs are available to you. You don’t know if the situation at a possible new job will be better or worse.

    You justify this decision in your head. Sure, work sucks. But doesn’t every job? Work isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s meant for making money. And right now, you’re making money.

    Does this narrative sound familiar? 

    There’s nothing wrong with staying in this situation. As long as you can justify it for yourself. It means you are choosing to stay in this place. However, what I often notice is that people in similar situations complain a lot. They complain about their boss. Their colleagues. The lunchlady. The hours. The constant overworking. The lack of opportunities. And the endless wait for a raise and promotion.

    Now this to me, doesn’t add up. If you dislike this situation so much, why are you CHOOSING to stay in it. Yup, it’s a decision to go to that workplace every single day.

    So now, if you do have the guts to change your situation – how would that look like?

    What does empowered decision making look like?

    An empowered decision is a decision that aligns with your values, beliefs and vision. An empowered decision is one made from a place of strategy and proactiveness rather than being reactive to your circumstances. An empowered decision focuses on growth. And yes, growth is uncomfortable.

    How to make the right decision

    Ok, so far we’ve established that in order to make the “right” decision (whatever the outcome is…) is at least an empowered one. Now how do you make the right decision?

    You face your fears

    Define what you’re afraid of. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Just write down everything that comes to mind. What scares you so much about this decision? Why are you hesitating or procrastinating? There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. It’s just you expressing your fears.

    If you can, determine what caused these fears. Dive deeper into the meaning you are giving these fears. You can learn how to do that in this blog/podcast.

    You map out your vision

    Where do you want to be in 5 years? Where do you want to be in 10 years? What does your ideal future look like?

    Now match your decisions to your vision. Are you making choices that reflect and support your vision? Or are you sabotaging yourself?

    Reverse engineer your goal. What do you need to do today, this month, this year in order to achieve this vision?

    You define your values and beliefs

    What do you believe to be true about yourself? What do you believe to be true about work? Money? Relationships? Opportunities?

    The beliefs you hold true about certain areas in life is how you show up in the world. It’s what you base your choices on.

    If you believe your social-economic status determines your success and happiness in life, you’ll apply for jobs that’ll heighten your status, for example. In your head, the higher the title or the more the job pays = the better.

    * Disclaimer – there is NOTHING wrong with that belief. No beliefs are every “right” or “wrong”. It’s just a story you tell yourself because you’ve been conditioned to think this way. Either by your upbringing, culture, religion, the media etc. You’ve been made to believe something is the truth. We all have. So don’t worry. Just focus on uncovering the unconscious beliefs you have. Need help with that? Watch this webinar.

    You get comfortable with the uncomfortable

    Yup. Growth is fucking uncomfortable. It’s scary. It’s uncertain. It feels like you’re running around like a chicken without its head.

    Funny thing is: this will never get any easier. The only thing you can do is embrace it. Be ok with it. Trust yourself. Trust life. Generate more self confidence.

    If you do need certainty, talk to people who’ve experienced similar situations. Read autobiographies of famous people who’ve overcome some of the biggest hurdles. Share your uncertainty with loved ones who can provide support. Journal – get to know your thought patterns. Write down a list of 25 things you’ve already accomplished in this life. Celebrate your wins! You’ve definitely got this.

    Need help at the crossroads?

    If you find yourself in a difficult situation right now, feel free to reach out. Sometimes just talking about an issue with an outsider, lightens the load. It might also give you insight you might have overlooked. Someone from the outside, who is not emotionally connected to your situation, is able to uncover the objective truth behind your fears and indecision.

    Just know – you are right where you’re meant to be. Trust yourself. Surrender to the process & timing. Be open to receiving guidance & miracles.

    Much love from my side of the screen, as always!