Episode 2: Is it this job, or is it me?

(In this series we will follow Lisa, a Financial Services executive who finds herself at a crucial moment in her career.  Lisa is a composite character based on many women in leadership I have worked with over the years.)

Normally, Lisa is a tenacious problem-solver.  But this nut seems very hard to crack.  There are a number of factors that are weighing on her at work these days.  Her manager has questioned a few of her decisions recently and insists on being consulted on matters she would normally have autonomy over.   Senior leadership seems to be nudging the organization in a strategic direction she doesn’t agree with.  She prides herself on keeping her organization ahead of the curve and finding innovative solutions.  But now it seems that if she questions the prudence of a business decision she comes across as being stodgy and unopen.  

The cumulative effect of all of this is clear.  Lisa feels constrained, unsettled, and unsure of her next move.  Her internal confidence is wavering as she tries to grasp the can-do attitude that has served her so well in the past.  

Lisa has some big questions to sort through.  Is she in the right place?  Is the job not a fit anymore or is it bigger than that?  If she leaves, will the problems follow her?

There is a lot of “noise in the system” right now, making it hard to hear the answer to the question “Is it this job, or is it me?”

When your current work circumstances have shaken your inner confidence, you can regain your footing.  Here are ten tips that have worked for me and my clients.  

Ten Ways to Ground Yourself

  1. Start and end your day with yourself.  Our days are often consumed with the needs (or demands, depending on how you are feeling about it) of others.  Find a way to start your day with yourself, and end your day with yourself.  Even a five-minute routine can help ground you with an appreciation of yourself.
  2. Finish your day with “what went well”.  Even on the worst of days, something went well.  Before bed, ask yourself what went well.  Maybe write it down in a notebook.
  3. Ask your “future self” for advice.  Give yourself the benefit of hindsight, in advance.  Chances are you will see that the problem isn’t so big.  Or get clarity on how you’d like to handle yourself.
  4. Ask five friends what your biggest strengths are.  When you hear something more than once, pay attention.  It is probably one of your gifts.
  5. Complete a values assessment.  Many thought leaders and coaches offer tools for values assessments.  Start with a list of values like this one from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead.  Choose ten that resonate with you, then narrow it down to five.  Keep them visible around your work- and living spaces.  Ask yourself how someone who is living into those values would respond to your situation.  
  6. Ask yourself what you would say to your best friend.  It may seem cliché, but it is so true that we are our own worst critics.  What you would say to your best friend if she were in your situation is likely more encouraging and supportive than the track running through your mind lately.  
  7. Reframe three regrets that you have.  Choose three regrets or mistakes that stand out from your recent (or distant) past, then make note of why you couldn’t possibly have done differently at the time. 
  8. Three Truths and a truth.  There is “Truth” with a capital T.  This is what is true about you when you are operating at your highest potential as a human.  Then there is the “truth” for you right now, but probably won’t be, forever.  Sometimes we can confuse “truth” with Truth.  What are three Truths about you?  For example, you might say “I always get back up when I get knocked down.”  Or “at my highest level, I treat others with respect and settle for no less for myself”.  And what is one thing that’s “true”?  Something that feels really true right now, but won’t be true forever.  
  9. Move your body.  Repetitive motion in particular does wonders for unlocking stuck thought patterns.  Take a walk, run, or bike ride to access a new perspective.
  10. Create intention.  How do you want to be of service in this world? What impact do you want to make?  How can you use gifts like the ones you discovered by doing exercise #5?  Refer to this intention throughout the day.

Our careers take many turns over our lives.  Getting more anchored with yourself will help you navigate unexpected challenges and guide you to your next move with clarity and confidence.  Whether to move on from your current job is a question best answered from a place where external noise is reduced and you are highly attuned to your true self.

Wendy Hultmark, CPC, ACC, is a coach who helps executive women own their stories and write the next chapter. Learn more at www.wendyhultmark.com.