The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BeBoldforChange. Being bold doesn’t necessarily mean being loud, in fact it can often mean listening to that voice within, and trusting it to guide you on the right path. It felt fitting then that Esther wrote this piece for ToGetHer Further this week – sharing her path in leaving the corporate world to follow her passions, and how she took those brave first steps. Enjoy! (And, as usual, if it resonates, please let us know in the comments below!)
Three ways to remember who you are
When people ask why I left my corporate career, they’re often surprised when I tell them that it wasn’t really the work, or even the people I worked with, which made me so desperate to escape. It was the person I’d turned into that fuelled my desire to leave.
I never imagined I’d end up working in London’s square mile in a prestigious role in corporate communications. It certainly wasn’t my dream to do so, but somehow it became my reality and despite the challenges, I am grateful for the experience.
However, I can see now that I almost lost myself completely to a career I never really wanted; I allowed the crush of the daily commute, the aggression, the politics and formidable workload to slowly suffocate me and in doing so, I started to forgot who I was. As a result, I spent too many days longing for something I couldn’t articulate, exhausted and with a niggling sense that life was slipping through my fingers.
If you can relate, here are three ways to remember who you are:
- Create an honest vision for how you want you life to be
I believe this is one of the most powerful actions you can take. So many people muddle along without asking themselves what they really want and instead, take society’s definition of success and make it their own, without question. This is your life. I believe we all need to get better at articulating what’s important to us and naming what we long for, without feeling ashamed for wanting more or worrying that we could fail at attaining or achieving whatever those things are.
Besides, without an honest vision for how you really want your life to be, it’s virtually impossible to know what steps you need to take to get there.
Start a journaling practice to unlock and capture what you consciously and subconsciously long for. Use journaling tools and techniques and write without censoring yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to journal, but prepare to be surprised by how much you learn about yourself.
Create a vision board using magazine clippings of images and words that resonate with you. Take your time with this exercise and again, don’t censor the images and words you’re attracted to. As you get to know yourself better, add or remove different elements to create a clear vision of what you really want.
- Seek out inspiration; discover what you love
As anyone working crazy hours already knows, personal time is limited. But whilst flopping on the lounge with a glass of wine after a long day at work is tempting, it won’t remind you who you are. Here’s what to do instead:
Get creative and give yourself permission to play. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic is a manifesto on the importance of creativity to our heart and soul and she believes – as do I – that every human is creative, not just the ‘artistic’ ones.
Attend courses, events and workshops to try new things and meet new people. Don’t choose ones that could be good for your career, pick what appeals to you on a personal level. Check out The School of Life (various locations) and the How To Academy (London only).
- Find a like-minded tribe
As you get clear on what you want it can be equal parts thrilling and terrifying. You may also feel quite isolated. Particularly at work where your colleagues may not be supportive of your new ideas and thoughts – but no matter how weird your vision may appear to one group of people – there are always others who will support you and constantly remind you that your dreams are possible, you just need to find them.
Look outside your regular friendship circle and the people you work with to find others who think the way you do. It may take some time, but it’s worth it. Try connecting with groups such as Escape the City, Say Yes More and of course, the ToGetHerFurther community.
Esther Zimmer is a coach, writer and speaker and can be found at estherzimmer.com
If you or a woman you know has a story to share, get in touch via the Contact page – we’d love to hear from you!