job

If you dread it, why do it?

I mean, really.

Why are you doing something that doesn't make you happy?

And if you know me, I hope you're considering what the heck I've done in my life and what I've overcome to get to this point where I can ask a question that may sound trite. If you don't know me, I'll tell you some more so you get that I GET IT.

I get the anxiety and depression and insomnia and stomach issues and infertility and paranoia and weight gain or loss and chronic pain and addiction and all the other things that you're experiencing from keeping yourself somewhere or in something that isn't meant for you. I get it because I've experienced all those things (even the infertility thing--but for a different reason) multiple times in my life from keeping myself in situations that weren't meant for me from fear of changing or being healthy and happy. 

I get it. I get the concerns and fears and hesitation and ambivalence that is keeping you doing what you're doing or where you are. It kept me in jobs and relationships and situations and habits and patterns and HECK, even in a body, that wasn't really ME. 

We do what we do until we do something different. Nothing changes if nothing changes, all that stuff. Easy to say, hard to do. 

But the HARD is what you have to weigh--if the hard of choosing or the possible outcome is harder than the dread you feel right now. If the hard of what might happen, say if you ate something you consider off-limits or if you stopped working out so often or turned off the TV and went to bed earlier EVERY NIGHT or opened your heart to someone who seems great and really likes you...if those hard things would outweigh the HARD of your current state.

Because life doesn't need to be hard or feel horrible. I say this from experience.

I get the whole "I have to pay my rent and feed myself" thing. Yup. I'm right there with you. And I was there as I tried to build a business and finance my own gender transition and enter graduate school and pay off undergrad loans while I had rent to pay and food to buy and no one to rely on but ME to make it all happen. 

I get the whole "but what would people think of me" thing. Yes, I do. And you know what I realized? People think you're awesome or an asshole no matter what you're doing or not doing right now anyway. So, what do you have to lose? Your illusion of control of that? Good riddance.

I get the whole "how do I know if I'm doing the right thing" thing. HOLY HELL, how many times did I ask myself this?! I searched high and low for someone (ANYONE) to tell me the right thing to do. That person never appeared but I'll help YOU out: chances are, if you're going TOWARD something that will make you less miserable, it's right. Even if it's scary. 

I get the whole "how do I make it happen" thing. I remember sitting and trying to think something into existence. Like, if I made enough lists or sketched things out or talked about it enough, it would just happen with ease that involved no risk or fear or failure or rejection. And sometimes things DID work that easily and well. And that was great. Many times, I had to leap and see what happened, which was neither fun nor pleasant. And guess what? I'm sitting here writing this article for you, so I'm alive. I figured out how to stay alive. It's ok.

I get the whole "what if the person rejects me" thing. Listen, mere months ago I sat across the table from someone and put my heart on the line and was told, "NO" to my face. Great. Clear. Now I decide what I do next. Still alive, once again. And it's much better than dreading seeing that person or interacting with that person and fearing what will or won't happen. 

I get the whole "what if I fall flat on my face and never get up" thing. I felt that every time I tried something scary. So far, I've fallen flat on my face, but haven't not gotten up. In fact, I become stronger and more confident every time I do so.

I become a healthier, happier and MORE AWESOME version of myself. To the point that I don't dread anything and I don't do anything that doesn't make me happy---or at least with the outcome that it WILL at some point. Because even hard or scary things provide a lesson or character development, if we are wise enough to make lemonade from lemons.

And so I ask you again, if you dread it, why do it?

 

I made this so I don't have to credit anyone. 

I made this so I don't have to credit anyone. 


What no one can tell you.

People want clarity and they ask for answers. I'm getting this a lot lately, especially since declaring how important "getting clear" is in my recent TEDx talk.

I'm noticing more and more people asking me for ideas, advice and solutions to areas where they feel stuck in their lives. I mean, I get it. I'm a coach. I help people get unstuck. It's what I do.

So it makes sense that they would come to me seeking help in the form of answers. 

And then some people become incredibly frustrated with me. They realize I don't give answers. Especially to the biggest questions in life:

-how do I quit my job for the dream I have?

-what is my true sexuality and what happens if I express it?

-should I be a vegan or Paleo?

-what kind of exercise is best for me and my body?

I have no clue, I tell them. That's something no one can tell you. For as much as I'd love to market myself as this know-it-all guru-type being who has all the answers (because trust me, that's easy to sell) my integrity won't let me do it. I can't sell some bullshit "four-step formula" to follow or pretend like I'm going to fix your life. 

I have a pretty decent track record of solving my own shit and have inspired some incredible transformations in the lives of my clients who sometimes tell other people about me. That's all I need. 

But my style isn't for everyone and like I said, some people become incredibly frustrated with me when they realize I'm not in the business of selling answers. It happened recently, in fact. I was asked to share some nutrition information and I showed up and did my usual spiel about us all being incredibly different with different resources available to us and how there's no one right way to do anything.

The folks seemed frustrated, maybe even a little annoyed or disappointed. I know why--and it's because most people are used to being told what to do. It makes it easier in a way, right? It takes the risk of failure and rejection out the picture---or at least supports that delusion. If someone tells us what to do, what steps to take, how to be/act/dress/walk/talk/live--basically how to be who we are--we can blame them when something doesn't work, right? YES! Then we don't have to be responsible for our lives!

And that's how most people live. They live in these "life boxes" that are really uncomfortable but safe because someone else is in charge.

Someone else is accountable.

Someone else pays our check or gives us orders/directives or manages us in some or many ways. 

And then we spend our miserable lives complaining about all of this. We limit ourselves and then cry disempowerment, victim and resignation.

I experienced this intimately this past year when, after spending many months extracting myself from a few situations that weren't right for me, I found myself completely and utterly disoriented. My internal compass was toast---broken and in dire need of recalibration.

"Let me ask these 'experts'", I said to myself. These marketing professionals who will tell me who I should be and how I should brand myself. I was struggling with something for which there was no paved path: I'm a health coach who happens to be transgender and I have little to no interest in being a poster child for the current "LGBTQ issues" bandwagon of political activism. Nope, not my chosen career. I am a health coach. And I thought I needed help to figure this out. 

All I have for you right here is a big huge L-O-fucking-L.

I ended up paying close to $1000 in consult fees (worth the investment if you get your damn ROI) to arrive at this answer: no one could tell me. I was looking for permission that I didn't need from people who had no capacity (or right) to provide it.

Seriously. They meant well, and gave it their best. But I was left with the irony or silliness of asking two straight, cisgender strangers to tell ME, a transgender health coach, how to brand and market myself. 

Yeah, I know. This is what WE DO! We ask other people who barely have the ability to get their own lives on track. Why do we think people know better than us? Because we don't trust ourselves. We don't listen to the truth and INTELLIGENCE that lives in us all.

Does this mean conversations, consults and even counsel aren't helpful? I'm not saying that. I have accountability coaches, a therapist and other colleagues who I pay, often, to listen to me think my shit out.

But I don't ask them what I should do. And you shouldn't either. Because no one can tell you.

You want to create something--a life of your dreams in some form or fashion. A relationship. A career. An identity you feel is integrated. Something else maybe? And that involves creating it.

Creativity is the result of destruction, chaos and construction. And it happens over and over. 

You can't create something or build something that is YOU by asking someone else how to do it. You can't cherrypick your beautiful, unique self into existence. Stop trying to do that, please.

Who are you? What do you want? What do you need to thrive and feel fully awake and GRATEFUL to open your eyes each day?

I don't know these answers. You do. Or start figuring them out. It's what no one can tell you.

So are you ready to stop asking?


Is overworking really worth it?

A signpost directing work life balance

  I found an article online that quoted some health tips from me. While reading, I learned a new word: karoshi. (And there should be an accent above the "o" in that word, but Wordpress didn't have the right symbol)

According to Wikipedia, it can be translated to mean, "death by overwork" and the Japanese use it when referring to "sudden occupational death. The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress and a starvation diet."

 

Stress and diet.

These are two things you can definitely manage.

 

I don't know about you, but I can think of a few people who are on my watch-list, people I know who work a lot, to the point that I'd call it overworking. How do I know what I'm looking for?

Because it used to be me.

For most of my working life, I was overtired, chronically sick, underslept and overwhelmed. I missed appointments and deadlines and had colds that became sinus infections and led to countless trips to the doctor or days working sick on my feet. I shudder to remember. I just stopped and counted--I've been sick less than 10 days in the past four years.

I know that OVERWORK CULTURE is real.

Before I became a self-employed integrative health coach, I ran on fumes. I began my professional career as a teacher at the age of 22 and, within a month of accepting my first job, came down with mono that grounded me for two months. Unbelievable. Anyone who knows or is married or partnered to a teacher knows the hours are well beyond 40+/week.  Summers are rarely free since many teachers spend those months earning supplemental income.

I was almost burned-out by the time I quit teaching at the age of 25 when I moved into working for local businesses and then multiple non-profits. The years I spent in those environments taught me very little about healthy boundaries and I perpetuated unhealthy habits around nutrition, time management and work/life balance like many of my colleagues.

For the past five years, I've coached clients from all job sectors: from startups to local companies to corporations to ministers to doulas.

I've learned that overwork is a potential threat in any environment and what makes a difference is how people approach the tasks before them and the tools they use to practice work/life balance.

When we feel especially passionate about our job or our role in our workplace, it's tempting to think that investing significant amounts of time into the work will pay off. We will get ahead. Just one more email or phone call or whatever and we will knock it all out and be able to relax "when things calm down." But this is a dangerous dangling carrot, particularly if your job or workplace is successful. Chances are things will not get to a place of stability--there are always multiple balls in the air, things to solve, cats to herd, etc.

And that's how we get to a place of overwork and unmanageable stress that reveals itself in symptoms like fatigue, chronic pain, headaches, recurrent illness and possibly worse at some point. It's something so common, Japan has a word for it. Is it really less common here or have we just not named it, yet?

It begs the question: is overworking really worth it?

Consider that your health is your best asset: for your personal AND professional life.

When you're out sick, your company suffers. When you're sick, your life suffers.

No matter how much there is to be done, you always have a choice how much you'll do.

If you're thinking this is unrealistic or impractical, all I can say is I've done this for myself and have coached hundreds of people in achieving and experiencing the same results. I can only provide the tools and cross my fingers that they practice them to the point of experiencing real change in their lives. And then, when they see that they can feel happy, healthy AND get tons of work accomplished, they really get that overworking never really necessary or worth it.

 

Can you relate to this? What could you do today to scale back on your workload?

What are you getting from overworking? Is it worth it?

 

image courtesy of this site.