Stop Following the Herd

Don't be a sheep with your careerFor the first 26 years of my life, I killed it. I did everything I was “supposed” to. I made straight A’s in high school while succeeding in sports and theater, went to a great college and majored in the smartest sounding major I could find (Political Economy) while working to support myself and then went straight to a top ten law school where I did equally well. I graduated law school with a high powered law firm job in Chicago with a salary well into the six figures. I had made it!!!

I started my corporate law job in 2007, which was a challenging time. In 2009, after months of learning of at least one classmate that was laid off every week, it was my turn. I lost my cushy-salaried job that was supporting my mortgage and my student loan payments. In just a year and a half, I went from “killing it” to feeling like a complete failure.

I knew when I was laid off that I didn’t really want to continue being a corporate lawyer, but I felt I had no choice. Miraculously, I landed an in-house job that felt successful and interested me much more than the law firm job and felt I was back on track. Recession schmecession…no one can stop me!

And then I got a groupon for a yoga studio in my neighborhood.

I had been athletic my whole life and was competing in marathons and triathlons, so figured yoga would be a cinch. Plus, this studio had a “Yin and Vino” class on Friday night, and I can totally get behind any endeavor that involves wine.

I started going on Friday nights pretty religiously. It even felt like church to me. My teacher would say these terribly wise things – “You get to choose how to experience this pose.” “The shape doesn’t matter, what matters is how it feels to you.” “You can push to your max, but how sustainable will that be?” “There is no reason to strive beyond your limits.” “No one is watching. This is about you.” – as I was suffering quietly in an eight minute pigeon pose.

I didn’t know this lady (and now she’s one of my closest friends), but she was turning my world upside down! All of these things she was saying about the poses seemed to have a direct application to my life. Who was I performing for? Why did I keep making decisions that made me look good to other people but that really weren’t fulfilling to me? I was tired and unsatisfied.

In our current world, there are so many accolades and achievements and certifications and milestones that you are “supposed” to collect. There are endless blogs and email lists promising to deliver you success and happiness with “5 Simple Steps!” It’s overwhelming. If you spend more than 20 minutes perusing the internet reading what you think is “productive” because you’re learning about how to succeed, you can easily come out of your internet fog overloaded with what you’re “supposed” to do to achieve success and confused at all of the conflicting information out there – let alone what you already know.

How do you find the time and space to listen to yourself instead of others?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week to hear more!

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