I decided to get VERY uncomfortable and quit my corporate life in August of 2018. I didn’t walk out of those doors with a roadmap. I didn’t have full clarity on what I wanted to do next. I only knew I needed to cut a cord and find my own way to ‘the next’. So here I am, two years later. I’m not just standing, in fact if I’m honest with myself, I’m flying. Flying free.
I do want to acknowledge upfront that I have many privileges in doing what I did. I’m an Italian-American woman, with a husband and some financial runway, just to name a few. I also know that you may have some privileges that I didn’t have or may never have. We all have different privileges AND I also have no doubt that what I share with you in my lessons, learnings and blessings from the last year will be universal when it comes to making that choice to get out of your comfort zone.
For you, it might look like saying no to your boss for the first time. It might look like setting a boundary with a friend. Whatever “uncomfortable” looks like to you – I’m confident I have some value to add for your journey.
With so many of us experiencing unprecedented change and disruption in our lives, I am hopeful that these tips I share will help you, whatever your situation may be.
Measuring Success Differently
So, let me start with one of the biggest shifts I had to make. I had to measure success in an entirely new way. I couldn’t measure my success or worth on things like regular paychecks, validation from managers or getting through my 10-hour workday.
How we measure success is also linked to what we give ourselves permission to celebrate. Anyone who knows me KNOWS I love every excuse to celebrate.
How many of you out there wait to ONLY celebrate the big things? Graduation? New Job? Bonus Check? These BIG things don’t come along that often, really.
Why can’t we celebrate the milestones along the way? The energetic wins? The wins in getting through tough days? The wins in our courage and our bravery?
I say, celebrate it ALL, and in doing so, we must redefine success (cue “525, 600 minutes” from the musical, Rent. Anyone?)
Look, I’m STILL working on this. I know I am hard on myself, and I want the BIG wins. Experiment with ways of measuring your success, create your own list and then celebrate the hell out of them all!
Different Ways of Measuring Success
— Have I let myself be vulnerable with the people that deserve my trust?
— Have I let myself get uncomfortable for the sake of making forward progress?
— Have I given myself permission to get the support I need?
— Have I experimented with new things to see what NEW results are possible?
— Have I allowed myself to feel what I’m feeling, versus burying the discomfort?
— Have I touched lives, inspired anyone, put out an open hand?
— Did I take the time to show gratitude?
— Am I giving myself permission to have fun? Did I actually have fun?
— Did I helping other people from a place of joy and not resentment?
— Did I choose to be kind to myself, when I realized I was beating myself up?
— Did I strive for courage and not perfection?
— Did I spend quality time with people I care about, which is one of my core values?
— Did I say “yes” to opportunities, even when I felt scared or nervous or not ready yet?
Living My Life Like It’s Golden
I had to learn how to flip the script on success, and frankly it’s still a work in progress. The best part of allowing myself to take a leap of faith into the unknown.
I have felt loved and supported from people I never expected it from, which has reminded me that I am on the right path.
A former colleague of mine set up time with me for the sole purpose of telling me to “keep going, you’re doing great things, it’s really needed”. This lit up my soul! It felt better than any paycheck.
To feel like I have an army of people behind me (cue final scene from Self Made) makes me feel like the richest person alive. I have met lots of new people, all from different backgrounds and experiences as me. Entrepreneurs, fashionistas, financial coaches, stylists, bankers, lawyers – you name it – many of which was a result of joining a networking and co-working group called Luminary, which aligned with my values and fostered the right connections.
Getting out of my comfort zone has made me feel like I am living. Some of those milestones were as simple as uploading my first video of myself on LinkedIn, hosting a 15-minute session with The Female Quotient and hitting the send button on my first newsletter. All of which wouldn’t have been possible without help from lots of women lifting me up in the process.
It felt amazing when I decided to invest in myself and my business BEFORE I had the results to “justify” the spend. It felt good to believe in myself enough to know that my investment would pay dividends. One of the best parts has been meeting people that want to partner with me because they see my value. It’s similar to that feeling when you get picked for the team with no prior expectation you were going to be a starter.
I’ve had dance parties for myself, even during COVID. This was possible with the help of my husband trying to cheer me up. I’m learning more and more to live life in the moment, even on dark days, and getting through them by finding the light in the shadows. These are the best parts; rising after the crash, grasping for hope in the storm. These remind me that I am truly alive, awake and am leaving nothing on the table when I leave this world – whenever and however that might be.
This is linked to learning how to better take care of myself. Making time for me, for breaks (and yes, naps), for girlfriend time (virtually, too), for getaways, for reading and so much more. I’ve gotten better at realizing that this life doesn’t have to be forced. I can be still, and the magic of life is taking place in the background, without my knowing.
I loved the guest lectures I was provided an opportunity to give at University at Buffalo and Pratt and NYU Stern. Those were full circle moments when I identified with the audience and wished I knew what I know now at their age. Those were the moments where I saw the change makers of tomorrow raise an eyebrow, thinking intently about something I said. That’s not my ego talking — that’s the sign of helping people think differently, which is something that exists at the core of my ‘why’.
Perhaps nothing really compares to the times when I know I have changed someone’s life.
This isn’t just momentary change, but lasting differences in how they move through the world. The times when I know someone is seeking something in a new way. Maybe it’s how they view getting feedback, or how they see their colleague as someone who is hurting and not just someone who is lashing out.
OK, so I went on at length about the good stuff. You know what? I think what we tend to do in telling our stories is spend so much energy on the hard stuff that we don’t let the good stuff breathe. We don’t let ourselves see all that we have done, become and triumphed over.
Soak in what is possible for yourself. Daydream a little.
My Tips for Turning Around Your Own Discomfort
— Create a list of how you want to measure success for yourself for the rest of 2020.
— Identify who is in your tribe. Who is your village to support you in the good times and the bad.
— Choose one thing you want to experiment with.
— Create a list of 15 ways you can celebrate small wins.
— Celebrate TODAY everything you have accomplished in the past month.
Up next, part 2: The Other Side of Getting Uncomfortable
Part two in this series I will talk about the struggles and the resulting lessons. Phew, lawd! That can be a whole book on its own.
But for now, I challenge you to consider some of these stories, actions and tips to unleash what’s possible for YOUR life so that you, too can live life like it’s golden.