Oh, the things we are told, taught and believe we must endure.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to commit to taking action on what you want in your life.

As a professional career coach, I see too many people forcing themselves to show up for work that doesn’t work for them. Trying to fit into someone else’s limited expectations for them. Squeezing into limited expectations of themselves and staying small.

An ill-fit is known to cause unhappiness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, tension in relationships, and illness.

It’s a healthy choice to get curious, pause to reflect, and follow your own path.

An important part of my job as coach is to reveal freedom of choice and leverage of strengths. My clients have been successful in their careers. But when they come to me, it’s because
they need out. They cannot see, yet, an identity and role that’s different from what it’s been.

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has an excellent podcast, The Huberman Lab In one episode, he distills three instinctive reactions: Yum, Yuk and Meh. If my incoming clients were asked to choose one of those words as it relates to their work situation, it would overwhelmingly qualify as Yuk (or worse).

So, you may be wondering right about now, how do I shift from Yuk to Yum?

To illustrate, let’s look at one way to approach the work transition, from a client’s perspective. She has graciously given permission to share her experience. Although each person’s journey is different, see if you can spot the gems to break a cycle of inaction.

This client came to me as a referral, at her most unhappy at work, knowing something had to change. She was enduring a job that consisted of tasks she disliked. It leaked into late nights and weekends, keeping her from family, friends, and other interests. It was negatively affecting self-esteem. But she was unsure what, if anything, would turn up in this market if she left. So, she stayed.

After our first meeting, her marathon of endurance reached a breaking point. She had funds saved and decided to quit without another job in the wings.

With palpable relief and separation from a toxic corporate environment, she found herself receptive to noodling ideas, which inspired curiosity and freedom to explore what was next.

In sessions, I posed powerful questions. She took a personalized assessment and engaged in a visioning exercise. She moved forward on the strength of her own insightful responses and data.

We began to disrupt some old beliefs and self-sabotaging habits because they get in the way of identifying what she wants now.

As it happens once coaching starts, she begins to envision a better alternative. She acts quickly. And I see in her face, hear it in her voice–she is lit up to express herself and create impact in this way.

Before long, she is designing a logo for a new creative solo-entrepreneur venture. Getting input and feedback from her team of supporters.

What she’s chosen to explore–a niche in videography– is a ringer for what she loves to do naturally. It requires, among other things, creativity, empathy and urgency–qualities she has in spades and that were revealed in assessment results.

She has an epiphany: I thought I was lazy doing things at the last minute. And now I see… I thrive on urgency.

You see how this works? If you are someone who has a history of doing things last minute, it’s likely you tried to buckle up. You really did. But it was never really your jam. You always got into gear at the eighth hour.

We unconsciously integrate messages from parents, teachers, society, social media. Such as Don’t wait until the last minute! Plan ahead for that talk, test, trip, whatever!

But not everyone wants or needs to plan ahead. Some of us thrive on a sense of urgency and do our best work under pressure. (I am not one of them).

To recap: This client quit her job which created a sense of urgency, in which she thrives. In turn, it provided freedom to explore and create. Once she had an idea, she acted quickly. She followed the trail of something she enjoys, has skills in, and could monetize. A perceived weakness became a strength. She doesn’t know where this will lead (how could she?) but does know it fills her and allows her to make a meaningful contribution. While exploring, she holds the outcome lightly.

What lights YOU up? It has to make sense for you.

And what about when we get in our own way (which we spend a lifetime learning how to overcome)?

As you consider how you want to be and grow in the new year, I want to encourage you to:

• Keep going. Take more chances. Show up in the unknown zone. You are more creative and resilient than you think. Find reasons and openings to express yourself, not run or hide from them.
• Connect to others. Get out from behind the computer. Focus on getting support, building a dream team or brain trust to provide mutual support.
• Know that your choices matter and there is no limit on the choices you get to make.
• Frame the exploration as a journey, and put on your explorer’s cap!

How are you looking to grow in 2023? I’d love to know.