170: Wild and Free: Embracing Authenticity in Your Career Journey

Mindset

Welcome to episode #170 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. How do we be more wild and free? How do we find freedom and authenticity within our careers, breaking away from societal norms and expectations? You might be curious about pursuing unconventional and adventurous paths in your professional life.  Today’s podcast on Wild & Free is going to inspire you to feel more alive, to be creative and to allow yourself to be a bit more fearless and brave to be yourself in your career journey. We’ll celebrate the spirit of being wild and free while still finding fulfillment and success.

When you experience death firsthand, things change. The other day I was in Nashville and I was listening to the Garth Brooks song, “Live Like Your Dying.” It reminded me of one of my biggest catalysts for change. What got me to finally start making changes to my career.

A death. That was the trigger. Not just one, but three. After the third one, I realized I didn’t have as much time as I thought I did. It’s a scary feeling being in your thirties and wondering if you’ve made choices in your life that led you to a place where life feels mostly good, but you know something deeper is missing. The feeling like there’s more, but not knowing exactly what that means. A feeling like there’s more of you to be shared with the world.

I wanted to write, to be more creative, be spiritual, to do work related to psychology and human development – something that at the time felt unconventional. I didn’t know anyone who did these things. Instead, I chose the more conventional career path which was a more analytical and strategic business route. Business school after business school. Supply Chain management, information systems, management consulting, sales strategy, operations. I had a brief period during business school where I stopped working and went to school full-time. I had more choice in how I spent my time. I felt like I was more wild and free to be myself. During that time period, I did yoga teacher training, traveled a ton, took 7 weeks and traveled through Europe with my husband before coming back to real life to start my management consulting job at McKinsey.

Being wild and free within the context of your career isn’t about having regrets. It’s about finding more authenticity and fulfillment in your career by being more true to yourself. 

Challenging Conventional Career Paths

It’s not always easy to break free from societal norms. There’s a pressure to stay on traditional career paths and trajectories. Yet, the reason you’re considering a change or a switch is because you don’t feel like you’re growing like you used to.

Your performance at work might even be plateauing. You’re not tapping into that part of you that’s really curious and interested about a topic. The part of you that’s completely engaged, thinking and caring about it and pursuing it even on your own time.

This happened for me slowly over the working years – starting as early as my first few jobs out of school. In the beginning, I was so engaged in trying to make money and be resourceful. I wanted to do a good job, save, invest and get ready for graduate school. That learning and growth propelled me. It got me through the first five years post-MBA.

Then came the years that felt a bit hard and painful. I had kids and my time felt even more crunched. The hobbies or passions I had went away as did my free time. I was either a parent, working or working out. I didn’t feel like there was any time to think about what’s next.

I felt like I was in hiding trying to make it all work. I didn’t know that I could do what I really wanted to do. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. I was really good at my work – which can be a trap – but also not really good as I could be, because I wasn’t leaning into what really interested or engaged me.

What I wish I knew then is what I’m telling you now. When this lack of engagement goes on for a while, it’s a risk to your career, family and health.

This is hard to hear, but I want to save you time and energy. Not being fulfilled is a risk in your life and career. Not caring as much, frustration and boredom makes your work suboptimal and instead of standing out like a leader like you used to, you start shrinking back. 

Your health also becomes more at risk. Work feels more tiring. You hustle and burnout thinking that career success or having your kids be successful is the key to feeling fulfilled but the reality is that you’re just ok at things even if you’re working hard. 

This is a cycle. It doesn’t end because you have a couple weeks where work gets less busy or you take a vacation.

The constant feeling of knowing this isn’t what you want to do and not knowing what to do next is just made worse when things get stressful. You know that even with some breaks here and there, you’re more exhausted than you ever have been. You’re not stop working out as much as you would like. You’re not taking care of yourself the way you used to. Mental health actually becomes a concern.

This is where I often see clients who are stressed and working hard but it feels worse because even with all that work, they don’t feel like you’re really succeeding. They know their overwhelm or lack of resentment towards their work will eventually show up in a mistake or not delivering what was promised. They’re at a level where it doesn’t matter what the reason is, it’s still on them and they’re still the ones associated with the work. 

You didn’t work this hard and get this far, to lose your reputation and credibility.

They even dream of just going back to super easy jobs where they don’t need to use their brains and no one would notice their lack of engagement. They think that they can be wild and free in their personal time because they don’t know how to actually have a more fulfilling job that allows for the work/life balance they want.

Yet for someone who has a drive and desire to live life deeply, you know that waiting and hiding out in work that’s below your paygrade feels off. You know it’s not what makes your life more interesting, inspired and joyful. You know that true wildness and freedom come from feeling like you love your work, not just your friends and family – and that your whole life feels good. A whole life where you feel like you have options, no one thing is going to wreck your day. Your whole energy feels more wild and free even if you’re just taking a walk around the block.

This is why you need to take some smarter risks, instead of risking your career potential doing work that doesn’t inspire you. This is why you need to balance adventure with stability. You need to figure these things out, and they need to happen sooner than later.

In my coaching, I will start with creating space and time. You have to stop doing some things so you can figure out how to create the space and time now to start figuring out what that wild and free life looks like to you. You need to figure out not just what you’re good at but what you’re really interested in doing. You need to stop getting stuck fighting fires in your work and move into that next thing. And you need to do it now.

Do not try to find that wild and free feeling in things like food, looking good, drinks, and weekends. Do not try to live it up as much as you can on vacation or weekends before you get back to “real life” and the “real world.”

When you chase the high of the weekends, a purchase or a really nice meal or that glass of wine, nice homes, or your kids’ successes – it will eventually not be enough. You need more weekends, more money to buy more things, more houses, more nice meals and nicer and more glasses of wine. Your kids need to do more fun things so you can do more fun things.

Things don’t create a wild and free life. Things keep you chained to your work thinking there’s no other way.

What creates a life of wildness and freedom? 

Your spirituality – the personal sense of knowing yourself. The part of you that’s bigger than any job, place or thing. Imagine knowing who you are, what you stand for, and why you’re here. When you know that, no longer is the tail wagging the dog. Stuff and work doesn’t make your life better. You do.

You’ll finally get off the hamster wheel of the career or job you’ve had forever. You stop fueling life with home projects, endless lists of to-do’s and weekend activities, you’re fueled by the confidence in really knowing what you want. As soon as you know that, you’re on your way because you’re that person who works hard once they know what they’re working towards is really important and matters. 

Overcoming Fear and Doubt

It’s normal to have fear and doubt when you start thinking about alternative career paths. No matter when you get started, that fear and doubt will be there. You’re not going to be able to avoid it, but time is on your side.

I remember thinking I was so old when I was making my first career change in my twenties. The same thing happened when I was in my thirties. When I coach clients on changing jobs or careers, they all express fear and doubt. The difference is not listening to those voices.

There are smart ways to handle fear and self-doubt. Do not risk everything as you pursue your passions. This is what I advocate. I teach my clients to focus on sustainable career paths where they feel like they have both the money and lifestyle they desire. 

You haven’t run out of chances. Life doesn’t end when you have kids or you get a job. 

It’s time to figure out what you really want next. 

Not knowing is costing you. It costs you time and money. It costs you your confidence and ability to market and sell yourself well. It’s costing you a life where you could have been more wild and free for longer. 

Seeking Guidance for Career Clarity

Coaching helps you be able to avoid common pitfalls of career changes and helps you find your new path much sooner. Coaching also helps you be able to overcome the worries that keep you from doing what you’re thinking of doing.

Coaching helps you be more authentic in your personal branding and standing out quickly and easily.

You’re not meant to shape-shift to be whoever other people need you to be. You don’t need to spend years figuring out who you are. You need clarity now. You don’t need a lot of time, but you need to focus the time you do have right now to invest in your brain, your growth, your skills, and your life.

Celebrating Successes Along the Way

Here are some things you’ll be able to celebrate along the way of a career change. Falling back in love with your life everywhere and anywhere you go instead of escaping your life. You won’t be living your life through your kids, waiting for the time when you’re no longer “busy” to get back to who you were. 

You have awareness that life is happening now. You see that you figured this all out by deciding, not waiting. Even if you die tomorrow, you won’t die without knowing who you are and trying your best to live as true to yourself as you can. You are the person that other people see as an inspiration. Instead of leaving people behind, you’re going first.

All of this happens by saying yes to wild & free now. To say that even with my life of responsibilities and being a mom or dad or a partner or a friend and my role as a worker or leader or daughter or son, I can do it now. It’s the most responsible thing to do because you were born to live a dynamic and creative life where you use your gifts, learn and grow. 

You weren’t meant to live a life finding fun in things that keep you chasing more money and time, complaining and being angry at other people. 

You can change your life today.

You can sign up for a consultation to find out how coaching would help you figure out what you’re really good at and how to close the gap between where you’re at and what’s next for you. 

We’ll make decisions from a place of confidence and be fulfilled in both your work and personal life.

If you’re in the midst of a season and want to see what it feels like to break your own mind and perspective, I’ve created a free workshop for you. We’re heading into the summer and it is one of the best times to shift perspectives and break free of old beliefs and identities. The workshop replay is live now and my goal is to help you have a magical summer, even if you’re super-busy. A summer where you get to be re-inspired. You can sign up here at this link: Link here. Tell everyone and share it – I’m sharing all the practical and spiritual strategies that have helped me maintain a full life of purpose while also being an entrepreneur, corporate trainer, wife and mom.

If you’re ready for a change, I’d love to support you.

We also have an exciting announcement about our next retreat on August 7-11, 2023. We’ll be helping you think through that next leg of your journey and career. Imagine walking out knowing what’s next, the roadmap and getting started. I’m bringing you the Career Revelation Academy in live form and you’ll also have access to it digitally as well – how to make a career change in 30 days. Yes, that’s right – 30 days. Let’s go… reach out at www.mayempson.com/contact to book your spot.

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If you like this blend of both practicality and mindset, you will love coaching. You can schedule a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more about working together and joining this community of like-minded, open and curious seekers. It is the powerful group and private coaching hybrid experience for achievers who want to expand their vision of what’s possible. Twelve months of support, individualized guidance, community and retreats. We will help you build your confidence, trust your intuition and make decisions that you love.

That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.

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