Reframe Your Story
Oh, how powerful are the stories we tell ourselves!
For better or worse, right? If we’re constantly telling ourselves we can do this, we can do this, then sure enough, sooner or later, we’re going to do it.
If we are constantly telling ourselves we’ll never do this, we’ll never do this, then, well, we’re not totally surprised when, in fact, we never do it.
This notion of Our Stories is really resonating with me these days, especially when considering the stories we tell ourselves.
My Career Story
When I share the story of my career trajectory (or, how I went from HR & Benefits to Advertising to [Freelance Writing to Yoga Teacher Training to Social Media Manager] to Hospitality), the turning point in that story always starts around my fourth year in advertising, the incredible level of anxiety I was experiencing, and how yoga changed my life and ultimately sent me down a path of self-employment, moving across the country, and years in unconventional careers until I landed myself here, in a management role in a restaurant in Portland while simultaneously pursuing a career in wellness & health coaching.
The first part of that story I’ve held and believed and told was that it was the career itself that was so stressful, demanding, corporate, rigid, and ultimately suffocating. The second part of that story is that yoga “saved” (or at the very least changed) my life, giving me a tool for dealing with anxiety and waking up my inner consciousness to a life and path that was much more fulfilling to me.
I shared this story with a group of other coaches recently, and as I said the same words I’ve said over and over when asked about my path, I realized something didn’t quite click anymore.
I had moved on from this piece for a moment to focus on the “why” of my choices to pursue a career in coaching. The words that fell out of my mouth seemed like they came from some other place in a bizarre sense of divine inspiration or subconscious light bulb flicker, so I wrote them down:
The more committed I am to a pursuit of wellness in my life, the closer in tune I feel to my true calling.
The more committed I am to a pursuit of wellness in my own life, the more in tune I feel with my true calling. The more I know beyond doubt that I am on my PATH. That I am doing what I was called to do. That the answers and solutions will come. That challenges will work themselves out. That I am already rich in happiness, love, wealth, deep relationships, and more. I believe all of that to my core when I am committed to a pursuit of wellness and balance in my own life.
It’s that nugget of truth that inspires, motivates, and calls me to work with and help others do and find the same thing.
And when I said this, I realized — maybe it wasn’t the “corporate” careers themselves that completely burned me out. Maybe it wasn’t the hours, the subject matter, the lifestyle that caused me to experience anxiety and burnout and dissatisfaction.
I know plenty of people who have THRIVED in this environment. Creative, brilliant, grounded, healthy people who have succeeded greatly in these fields. People who are inspired by that work.
Suddenly the “my office job is the WORST and I must quit to teach yoga on a beach somewhere!” story no longer served me. It simply wasn’t true.
Instead, maybe it was the very simple, but very powerful notion that that career path simply wasn’t my calling. Maybe my pursuit of wellness at that time in my life (the start of a yoga practice that would follow me for years) was the first in many wake-up calls to get out of some current situation and into the next.
Maybe the anxiety came from some deep but powerful awareness and intuition that it just wasn’t the right path for me. Maybe the pursuit of yoga and the subsequent teacher training and certification and then a complete lifestyle change was so spot on that *any* other career at that point would’ve been incredibly uncomfortable, unfulfilling, and highly stressful.
When I reframe it like that, it makes me see those few years in that career as just one piece of my path.
These days, I feel a great sense of fulfillment when I block out my calendar with coaching sessions, study time, and even the marketing/business development time (hard as that part can be) because this pursuit feels right. When considering my current full-time job, I get a total high sometimes making sure our guests have the best possible experience they can. I am overjoyed when I make personal connections with people and I can see that they’ve truly had a memorable experience. This lights me UP in a way that those office jobs never did (for me).
For you, the idea of standing at a door and greeting restaurant guests as they walk in with their hungry bellies might make you CRAZY. Not me. Something about this job and the unique position I am in to truly bring joy to someone’s day, especially over food and wine — it lights my fire.
This is alignment.
Reframing the Story
So, to recap:
The story was: corporate, office-type, 9-5 careers are so limiting and demanding and rigid and stressful a career for me.
The story was: I simply couldn’t handle the demands of the first two careers I tried after college. I wasn’t cut out for it. I lacked something that successful people in those careers possessed in order to “make it.”
The story was: I am going to have to SHARPLY shift directions and pursue something so completely opposite and unconventional to undo the stress I was under and get myself so completely off of that path.
When we reframe our stories, I believe it helps us stay focused on the single-pointed path to success.
The story now: the more committed I am to a pursuit of a life of wellness and helping others, the closer in tune I feel to my true calling.
The story now: My first career(s) were hard on me not because inherently they’re hard careers (could be, but doesn’t matter), but because they weren’t the right careers for me.
The story now: “Failing” in those first careers were just steps I had to take to realize what didn’t make me happy so I could find what does.
The story now: the skills I learned in those first 4-5 years out of college and in the workforce have undoubtedly transferred to everything I’ve done sense and the experiences were valuable, enriching, and worthwhile.
The story now: I am exactly where I am supposed to be. My path is a straight one with successes and failures along the way, and these experiences have given me an unmatched and unique set of skills and perspective that I can take with me as a coach, as a friend, and as an employee wherever I work and whoever I work with. It all matters.
Are you telling yourself any stories that no longer serve you? Can you reframe those stories in a way that helps you see each experience as a part of your big picture? Can you accept that these experiences are less about a fixed, rigid idea of who you are right now and much more about the more fluid, evolving person you are becoming?