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How To Leave The Service Industry

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As someone who has left the service industry and built my dream job over the course of the past 6 years, I can say that this dream is 100% worth pursuing.  Leaving the service industry and pivoting into your dream career might seem daunting at first, but there are some very tangible steps to help you get on your way.  I’ve packaged up the process I used myself plus some tools I’ve learned from coaching others to successfully pivot into their dream careers after leaving their previous careers as hairstylists, customer service reps, bartenders, and servers, and more.

Step One: Explore your options. 

The first step to leaving the service industry is to explore your options to clearly identify your dream career path.  Service industry jobs are exhausting in more ways than one, and one of the downsides can be having very little downtime or energy to explore what else might be out there.  Here are some easy ways to start:

  • Begin by understanding your energy to determine what type of job might suit you.  Many people who are in the service industry are actually sensitives and introverts who just like to help people.  You might find that your energy would be better used in a virtual environment or with the opportunity to work from home.  Conversely, you might gain your energy from face-to-face interaction with people, in which case you’ll want to explore careers in a team or office environment.

 

  • Chat with friends or friends of friends about any jobs that are potentially interesting to you.  If you’ve worked in the service industry for your whole life so far, it can be hard to imagine any other way to live and make your money.  Chat with some of your friends who live a different lifestyle than you do.  What are their jobs?  What exactly do they spend their days doing?  Even if their job isn’t directly interesting to you, this type of exploration can help you discover what you like and what you don’t.  These conversations can be really beneficial as you create your game plan for leaving the service industry.

 

  • Take a look at your finances.  How much can you cut back on work hours to give yourself space and time to explore your options, learn a new skill, or take an online course?  When I was eyeballs deep in my hairstyling career, I would work ten-hour days, come home, eat, zone out, and go to bed.  With this type of schedule, there’s no SPACE to discover something new or cultivate new skills.  When I was making my transition out of the service industry into my dream career, I looked at my lifestyle and the hours I worked and realized I could cut back my hours by 20% and still live fairly comfortably.  It was tight, sure, but I was getting one foot out the door in order to pursue my passion, so it was 100% worth it.  Take a look at your finances and your lifestyle and find ways you can cut back on your current work hours so you can create the mental and emotional space to learn something new.

 

  • Expand your community (a nice way to say network).  At EVERY networking event I’ve ever attended I’ve met someone who I have collaborated with in the future.  Getting out of your current bubble may sound uncomfortable, but it’s one of the BEST ways to create new opportunities for yourself!  We’ve all heard the old adage: we are the sum of our 5 closest friendships, right?  Well, if all your friends are in the service industry, it’s time to infuse your life with some new people, which will ultimately result in new ideas! My favorite networks are free- if you’re female and living in the Twin Cities, GirlCreative is an awesome place to start.

Step Two: Make friends and connect with others who are doing the thing you’re interested in SUCCESSFULLY.

Once you’ve begun to expand your network and you’ve connected with some possible career path options that light you up, it’s time to find the people who are already awesome at what you want to do.  Find helpful ways to connect with these people – and remember, do NOT EVER lead with the question, ‘can I pick your brain?’  

Here are some great ideas for making yourself useful and befriending a new connection that’s already in your dream career:

  • Offer to assist them with what they’re doing.  Do your research here, and drop them an email specifically offering to help them out with something they’re working on.  You can treat this as an unpaid internship, you will learn SO much from working alongside someone in your dream career as you’re preparing to leave the service industry.

  

  • Network.  Ask to meet these people for coffee (and buy their cup).  Always lead with the intention of finding ways to help them.  

 

  • Never ask ‘can I pick your brain?’

 

  • Focus on ‘palm-down giving’.  My old boss from my service industry days talked about this concept called palm-down giving.  It was the model he wanted us to use with our customers and each other.  Palm-down giving means you give and ask for nothing in return.  Everything you give is just that, a gift.  If you give the gift of time to someone who you admire and would like to emulate, you do NOT want to make the interaction feel transactional, like you would expect them to give something back to you.  If you’re giving your time or energy with a palm-up-what-are-ya-gonna-pay-me-back-with energy, it’ll be awkward for both of you, so just don’t do it.

Step 3: Begin healing from the trading time for money cycle.

This step is crucial in being able to wrap your mind around leaving the service industry to pivot into your dream career.  In the service industry, you trade your time for dollars.  If you work more hours, you make more money.  Do more haircuts, serve more drinks, just work a little more and there’s quick cash in your pocket.  In MOST cases, when you leave the service industry you will not make money in the same way right away.  It will almost always be a step ‘down’ from what you are used to.  It’s essential to anticipate this and to find ways to be okay with it, otherwise, the quick-cash mentality could keep you in the service industry forever.  It may be comforting to remind yourself that you can always go back if you decide to ditch your dream career. 

I like to ask my clients the question: if 5 years from now nothing has changed and you are still in the same job, how do you feel?  If you’re upset at yourself for not trying something different, it’s worth making your transition a priority, even if that means making less money.

Step Four: Build a bridge.

Making the decision to leave your service industry career and pivot into your dream career is just the first step.  While it might be tempting to quit your job and dive into your new career really quickly, this doesn’t always work.  In many cases, you’ll need time and space to acquire new skills, work your way up, create a website, or go back to school in order to do what you want to do.

Give yourself permission to build a bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. 

For example, I decided about 6 years ago I wanted to leave my job as a hairstylist.  I was working for someone else at the time and wanted to just quit my job and have a friend build me a website so I could start promoting myself as a coach STAT.  Most businesses take YEARS to build, and I hadn’t taken the time to build my network, reputation, or anything else.  Since I realized I couldn’t support myself fully right away, I built a bridge.  I left the salon to rent a chair and started doing onsite hair and makeup for weddings as my own boss.  I knew I could work a fraction of the hours and make MORE money this way, and the skills I’d learn from running my own business would help me build my coaching practice.  This bridge served me for 3 years while I got my ducks in a row, and now I’m fully transitioned.  

(If you’re someone who’s looking to start your own beauty business, I’ve packaged up all my best advice from my award-winning beauty biz in the course linked below:)

Step Five: Set goals and take small steps toward your big picture every day.

It’s important to keep your end goal in mind when it comes to leaving the service industry and pivoting into your dream career.  You’ll want to remain connected to why you’re doing what you’re doing because this will help you take the steps towards your dream every single day.  New careers are rarely born overnight.  Break your transition into small, actionable steps and execute on them every day.

You might feel some resistance to this step.  If you’re like a lot of people (including me!) once you’ve made the decision to leave you want to do it NOW.  You might also be feeling fear about how you’re going to make your dream career work.  These feelings are your new friend, and they will be a part of your journey every step of the way.  These feelings are resistance, and you’ll feel them often as you navigate this sometimes messy path.  If you can understand what’s happening and move forward with consistency rather than letting that resistance dictate your action, you WILL get to where you’re going.

Steven Pressfield says, “overcoming resistance is more important than talent or anything else” , so when your inner critic starts going off about how you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re so far behind, just breathe, let it go, and take your next step.

(You might also like my blog post about how to set goals for the life you want instead of the one you think you should have).

Step Six: Open yourself to learning/being the newbie. 

The most important thing to remember here is that you’re going to go from a career where you knew the ropes to be the total newb.  This is something to embrace! Let yourself learn, give yourself space to grow, and find ways that you can enjoy this process along the way. 

Want some more support as you navigate this transition?  Let’s talk!

How To Support A Partner With Anxiety

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Anxiety is a tricky emotion, especially when it happens to your partner.  Chronic anxiety can begin to negatively affect your conversations, your ability to interact healthily with one another, and your relationships’ support structures.  It’s important to understand how to support a partner with anxiety so your partner is able to process their emotions and you’re able to feel grounded and taken care of in the process as well.  There are a few key strategies to understand – but first – let’s examine the emotion.

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is the body’s response to worry and fear.

Anxiety is a normal and even healthy emotion.  In small amounts, anxiety motivates us to make better decisions and stay in integrity with our values systems.  Our bodies are meant to react to our worries and fears – so in many ways, anxiety can be really healthy.  

Anxiety becomes unhealthy when it’s prolonged, heightened, or disproportionate to the reality of a situation.  This includes symptoms  like:

• constant worry about things outside your control

• Fear or phobias that affect your ability to interact with others or perform at work

• Spin-outs into worry or anger over small stressors throughout the day

According to the National Alliance Of Mental Illness, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. 

Over 40 million Americans are afflicted by anxiety, so if your partner is one of them, they are certainly not alone!  Here are some of the feelings and bodily sensations associated with anxiety.  A basic understanding of  your partner’s physical and mental state will help you support them when the anxiety is happening.

Body sensations:

Anxiety experiences can vary, but many people report bodily sensations on two different spectrums:

  1. A feeling of electricity and hyper-arousal.  Imagine your body’s nervous system is lit up like a fiber-optic Christmas tree with each nerve ending sizzling with energy and discomfort. 
  2. A state of numbness and disconnection.  The stress response is exhausting, so many anxiety-sufferers disconnect from the stress-feelings in the body and feel completely numb, as if their head were floating independently of their body.

Mental state:

On a mental level, in a full-on anxiety episode or attack, your partner’s thoughts might be moving way too fast for them to be able to tell you what’s going on.  When this happens, the anxiety-sufferer is ‘off in another world’ and will often need help to come back to the world you’re living in with them. 

It’s important to remember: it’s not your responsibility to ‘fix’ or ‘mend’ the anxiety emotion.  If you want to support your partner in the process, it’s important to take a few steps first in order to be helpful in a way that’s healthy for both of you. 

Here are some action steps you can take to support a partner with anxiety:

1. Have an open conversation about the anxiety when our partner isn’t anxious. 

One of the healthiest and most supportive things you can do for your partner is to speak openly and without judgement about their anxiety.  It’s important to make sure this is done gently and supportively, when your partner is not in a high-anxiety state.  I’d recommend asking questions to open the conversation – such as: I’ve noticed you’ve been feeling some extra stress over _____ lately.  Want to talk about it?  

2. Develop a support plan together.

This is the most powerful way to support a partner with anxiety.  Ideally the two of you would develop an anxiety support-plan together.  Creating a plan together helps your partner feel loved, seen and taken care of in the process.  One important note here: If you try to make a support-plan without your partner knowing, it will NOT go well.  Start at step one and have a conversation about it so you can understand what your partner wants and needs.  If you decide to try to ‘fix’ your partner’s anxiety with a plan of your own without them knowing, they’re probably going to feel pressure from you to ‘hurry up and fix it’ which can heighten the anxiety response.

A support plan might be as simple as: Operation Disney Movie Night! Or, an invitation to go outside for a walk.

Some of my favorite healthy suggestions include:

  • Any type of gentle movement– dancing, walking, or biking are great.
  • A change of environment, like going for a drive or moving to another room in the house, or sitting in the backyard.
  • One for your anxious partner (that you can prompt them in to) is environment recognition.  Since anxiety takes you out of the here and now, your partner can re-anchor themselves by looking around their immediate environment and identifying things: that cup is cream with blue words on it, That’s a green succulent in a brown pot, the grey house across the street has white trim etc. etc.  This could be prompted by a partner or done individually by the anxious partner.
  • A mindful sensory experience.  Smells, physical touch, and tastes can gently bring the brain back to the present.  A light massage, cold shower, bath with aroma-therapy, or a comforting, fragrant soup can all help ease the anxious feelings.  (A note here: all of these activities can be done mindlessly, so it’s important to slow down and try to sink into the experience.  Ask your partner if this is a good strategy for them before deciding to try to implement it).
  • A funny show or light movie might do the trick.
  • Peaceful music paired with some gentle yoga.
  • Supplements like magnesium or Cenitol (which I have lovingly called chill-the-fu*$-out powder).
  • High-intensity exercise, like sprints, burpees, or a short HIIT workout can be a quick-fix for certain personality types with anxiety.

It’s important that you both take into consideration your personality types and what will feel natural and doable for each of you.  Make your plan realistic and unique to who each of you are and how you want to show up for each other.

3. Encourage finding professional help (if it’s chronic/repeating/getting worse/negatively affecting your life together).  Sometimes even the best laid support plan will fail.  We are not meant to figure everything out on our own, so professional support is often an essential part of anxiety support for your partner.  Encourage your partner to get help, and be open to talking about what they learn about themselves in their sessions.  A mental health professional might be the best way to come up with a support plan for your partner.

4. Understand your own feelings.  This is a big one.  You’re in this relationship too, and your feelings matter just as much as your partner’s.  Monitor your own feelings while you’re attempting to support your partner with anxiety and make sure you take the time you need to feel supported in your life as well.  You will not be able to support your partner if you aren’t getting the support you need for yourself, so make sure you’re taken care of first.  I recommend this simple (free) meditation linked in the image below for supporting yourself when your partner has anxiety so you can feel protected, grounded and calm.

3 Signs Of Unhealthy Boundaries

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Healthy boundaries aren’t something many of us think about on a daily basis. The D.A.R.E. drug dog comes to mind when I think of boundaries: JUST SAY NO!

Childhood smoking aside, boundaries are much more vast than saying NO to harmful substances. Healthy boundaries, when correctly created and enforced, help you protect your time and energy, get what you want, and live life on your own terms.

It’s commonplace to hear statements like: ‘If only I had the time’, or ‘I just don’t have the energy or motivation’. I’d challenge each statement to say, you DO have the time, and the reason it feels like there’s no time and you’re out of energy is that your precious resources aren’t being protected. When you start to hear these excuses in your head, there’s probably an opportunity for enforcing healthier boundaries.

Here are a few signs of unhealthy boundaries you can use to check in with yourself.

Want to discover where you’re at on the healthy-boundaries spectrum?  Take the quiz here.

There are three common signs of unhealthy boundaries:

  1. Over-Committing.

Over-committing is often paired with a knee-jerk ‘yes’ response. Many of us don’t realize we’re over-committing until our minds are fuzzy, we’re late for our next meeting, and projects start to slip through the cracks. Over-committing leads to feelings of ‘not enough’- there’s not enough time, you don’t have enough energy, and your to-do list is daunting and never-ending. If you’re someone who over-commits, you’ll often end up resenting some of your commitments even though you made the decision to commit in the first place. Over-committing points to an opportunity for healthier boundaries around your time, energy, and clearer insight about what’s important to you and what’s not. Once that picture of what you want is really clear, it’s easier to do the editing required to align with what you actually want to show up in your life.

2. Exhaustion following conversations and interactions with certain people.

The second sign of unhealthy boundaries is exhaustion following interactions with certain people. Sure, you’re not going to enjoy talking to everyone – but if there are certain people in your life who leave you feeling exhausted after every interaction, there’s probably an opportunity for better boundaries. Relationships that result in exhausting interactions require inner emotional boundaries and external communicated ones. Inner boundaries involve protecting your energy and deciding how you want to feel ahead of time (I have a great guided visualization for that here), and outer boundaries involve speaking your truth in situations where your energy and values might be violated, and speaking clearly about what’s appropriate in a conversation and what isn’t. Enforcing healthy boundaries DOES take energy, so it’s essential to prepare yourself for interactions like these as an act of self-love and self-care.

3. People-Pleasing.

The third sign of unhealthy boundaries is a common midwest personality trait: People-pleasing. Where I live we call this Minnesota-nice. Since I’m not an MN native, I’ve been able to witness and study this fake-nice phenomenon without the deeply-rooted social programming many people have here.  While it’s an over-simplification to say that every ‘nice’ person in Minnesota is passive-aggressive, I’ve seen lots of evidence that the overly-nice nature is actually the result of a boundary-issue. Minnesota-nice and people-pleasing are essentially the same and look like this:

I’m going to be nice to your face, and be who you want me to be when we’re with each other, and then go talk about how horrible and demanding you are to someone else. I want you to like me, so I’ll do what you ask and ‘play your game’ so to speak, but I’m not happy about it.

This is a boundary-issue. Performing a task or ‘playing nice’ because you’re primarily concerned with what others will think of you when you don’t, means you’re living according to everyone else’s rules and expectations. In a sense, you’ve removed yourself from your personal thermometer of wants, needs, energy levels, and desires to give someone else what they expect of you. This opportunity for a boundary makeover is twofold: inner boundaries need to be enforced around an awareness of what you want and need, and outer boundaries need to be communicated – ‘yes I will do this for you (but on my terms)’, or ‘no I will not’.

These boundary-issues are by no means an exhaustive list. There are many signs and opportunities to build better boundaries and transform old ones to fit each new expression of our lives.

Are you working on setting healthier boundaries in your life?  There’s a free community for that!

Productivity, time well spent, access to energy, emotional support, satisfying relationships, and great conversations all have ONE thing in common: healthy boundaries. I’ve created a free community that’s a supportive, educational environment for people who want to create and use healthy boundaries. Boundaries are so much more than saying ‘no’. When used correctly, they help us get everything we want in the most supportive way possible.

How To Do A Digital Detox

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They have a name for the type of tech-user I used to be: The Constant Checker.

According to the American Psychological Association, in recent years a type of technology user has emerged called the ‘constant checker’.

The bottom line is this: our devices are addictive, we’re always on them, and it’s stressing us out.

Turn your screen to Grayscale.

Set time limits for your social media accounts (and DON’T extend them).

Make a plan for what you’re going to do INSTEAD of scrolling, checking email, and texting.

Turn off your notifications.

Keep your phone out of your bedroom.

Set ‘cell phone hours’ for yourself and your family.

Schedule 30 minutes of intentional, non-screen time each day.

How To Find Meaning In Everything You Do

I’m sure your life is full of meaningful moments.

Those ones that feel like your whole world makes sense and your heart is full of happiness – the ‘my mouth is smile-shaped and there’s nothing I can do about it’- type moments.

But what if those beautiful moments happened more often? Your life moving forward is like a blank canvas. You get to decide what picture your actions will paint and how much meaning you can distill from each moment.

Use these simple steps to find more meaning in everything you do.  With a few simple shifts, you can have more moments that make your heart light up simply by being you.

1. Identify your goals and values. (Ideally, these two are aligned with one another).

Your values are your driver – they’re the most important motivators you have and they’re a really great gauge for measuring whether or not something is actually worth your precious time. If you’re looking to find more meaning in your life, your values are the ticket.

Brainstorm and list your top 5 values and any current goals you have right now.

2. Next, open up your calendar and notice all your appointments, tasks, social commitments, workouts, and anything else that’s scheduled there.

You’ll be a bit of a detective here- ask yourself for each item: WHY is this on my calendar?

How you spend your time is a great indicator of the beliefs you have about your life- and in order to create or find meaning in your day-to-day, it’s really important to understand WHY the heck you’re doing what you do.

3. Remember the values/goals list from step one? Label each item on your calendar with its corresponding value.

Ideally, in a meaning-filled life, all your tasks, to-do’s, and activities will point back to what’s most important to you. This is the simplest way to align your life with who you really are and what you want! If there’s anything on your calendar that doesn’t align with a value or goal you have, see step 4:

4. Notice which tasks don’t align with your values and goals (no doubt there will be a few!).

It’s totally normal to have some aspects of your life that don’t fully align with who you are – that’s a part of the fun! You get to experiment and decide what works for you and what doesn’t and if you’re like most people, you have some old habits you ‘tried on’ years ago that no longer fit the vision you have for yourself.

The important part is to actually acknowledge when something’s not working for you and promptly eliminate it.

But first, ask yourself these questions: What am I trying to accomplish with this task/commitment/or goal? Is there something else that’s more meaningful/worthy of my time and energy AND aligned with the life I want to live?

The number one, most important step for finding meaning in everything you do is to eliminate everything that doesn’t align with who you are right now and who you are becoming.

Your actions today set up your successes tomorrow and into your future, so step into alignment with what you ACTUALLY want in order to live your very best life. Everything else is fluff- and you don’t need it. Be fierce with your time and energy, only allow for things that support your values and goals, and you’ll be left with ONLY things that are meaningful to you.