Five years ago, I realized that I was deeply unhappy with my work situation. Not just unhappy – I was also frequently unwell, emotionally and mentally depleted, financially underwater, and couldn’t see an easy way out for myself. I recognized that I hadn’t sat with my thoughts and feelings about my work, and how I felt about it, for a very, very long time.
I don’t blame myself for this as I don’t think it’s a terribly uncommon circumstance to find oneself in. As helpers, we are frequently overextended in all of the ways and often have to remind ourselves to take a bathroom break, let alone to take a few hours to just get in touch with our feelings about our WHOLE CAREERS.
There’s also an inherent difficulty therein, as many of us have built our entire identities and centered the meaning in our lives around what we do. When we begin to ask questions, we’re confronted with the possibility that we aren’t entirely happy with where we’ve ended up, and then we’re hit with the Very Scary question – what are we going to do about it?
It’s overwhelming to say the least.
Through this blog and the Help for the Helpers podcast, I intend to share how my own story unfurled to the place that I am now – a place of great satisfaction and fulfillment with my work (and many other things), as well as commitment to intentionally assess how my work is working for me on a consistent basis. I stand by, heartily sympathize, and want to walk with those of you that are just getting started with this incredibly important process. In the spirit of that, here are the concepts I worked through myself – actions we can take to begin to step into our own power as helpers:
ACKNOWLEDGE that we have been part of a system that, despite its best intentions, has sold us a bill of goods about our career trajectory that is inaccurate. In focusing solely on the well-being of those we serve, we have forgotten about our own wellness, worth, and dreams.
I posit that we can both serve people well and prioritize our own wants and needs at the same time.
ASSESS our true value. Most of the helping professionals with whom I’ve interacted are highly skilled, educated, passionate, and come with a wide berth of experience. These assets come with significant value, but many of us in the helping professions tend to undermine ourselves and diminish our own worth when it comes to expectations about money and growth.
I posit that we can engage in work we find meaningful while thriving in our personal lives and intentionally creating a lifestyle that meets (or surpasses!) our individual needs.
ACCOUNT for our mindsets. We sometimes limit ourselves within these fields, believing that helping is its own reward, and comes at the expense of financial security, personal relationships, creativity outlets, self-care, and emotional well-being.
I posit that we can both develop and maintain a robust growth-mindset while ALSO being wildly altruistic and service-oriented. It is my personal experience that, when we are thriving, we are better equipped to give generously of ourselves.
ACTUALIZE a plan for our lives that considers our well-being FIRST, and then accounts for the dictates of our professional lives. It is often assumed in our fields that we need to fit in our needs around our work. We try to squish ourselves into boxes that may not suit us as individuals because we believe it is what the helping professions require of us.
I posit that we can make choices about our lifestyles, and then pursue the work that fits into our individual plans. No two of us is exactly the same, and our professional lives can and should reflect our individual needs and preferences.
ASPIRE to continual pursuit of a professional life that serves us, in addition to our service to others. We often hit the breaking point and feel ready to pursue something new, but don’t have the confidence, support, and guidance necessary to take the leap.
I posit that we can all create a plan for our professional lives that allows for greater personal fulfillment and authenticity.
Phew. That’s a lot.
So where to get started? Stay tuned and subscribe here, and check out my podcast (coming soon!!) Help For The Helpers, where I pick the brains of powerful, courageous, out-of-the-box thinkers within the helping spaces.
I can’t wait to get to know you all better!