At some point in our lives, we may stop and ask ourselves if where we are professionally is actually where we are supposed to be. Answering this question requires a process to achieve career clarity … one that’s not always easy. The process may put us in the uncomfortable position of questioning our very ability to build the life that we want. Career clarity coach, Tracy Timm has been through that process herself and experienced first-hand what it takes for a successful career pivot. She condensed her experience into a 7-step system that helps high-potential individuals to define their goals and discover the career that they love. In this conversation with Adam Markel, she shares her pivot story of transformation and her process for achieving career clarity.
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Achieving Clarity For a Successful Career Pivot with Tracy Timm
I am jazzed up to be here. I’m thrilled to be in the seat. Sometimes that’s the way I refer to being in front of the work I’m supposed to be doing, whether it’s writing, podcasting, or serving clients in some way. Being in the seat is important to put the time in. I’ve got to remind myself sometimes that the good things happen when I’m in the seat and when I’m not in the seat too. It is finding harmony between those two things. I’m not a huge fan of that word ‘balance’ because balance feels to me like a lot of work. When I think of balance, I think of somebody at the circus on a high wire with a net or no net. If you see the flying wheel, they don’t have any nets, but there’s a lot of work involved in trying to keep and maintain balance.
The word for me is harmony and even when I think of what symbols are typically associated with balance, let’s say, it’s that symbol of yin and yang and what it means is harmony. It’s the interplay between these things. For me, being both in the seat and times where I’m out and about and doing other things. I got back from a trip to Dallas and we’ll have a funny synergy there with somebody from Dallas. Time-traveling and doing keynote speaking here in North America and elsewhere in the world, being on the road, and then being in the seat at home, it’s a beautiful interplay between those things.
When it feels good when it’s the right measure of both things, that’s when I feel in harmony. Like with a recipe, the right amount of ingredients can make something taste wonderful and sometimes if you put too much salt, sugar and anything into the equation, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing sometimes. I feel perfectly harmonized and thrilled to have a great guest. Somebody we’ve been waiting to speak to. I’m super excited. She’s been patient with us as we’ve had to change our schedule around from time to time, but we’ll get into it by first, introducing her and then digging into her bio a little bit.
Her name is Tracy Timm. She is a career clarity expert and a human capital advisor. I love the alliteration of that and what that brings to mind immediately. She’s the Founder and Creator of The Nth Degree, a proven methodology for career clarity and sustainability. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology from Yale and grad work in design thinking from Semester at Sea. Her work has helped hundreds of professionals find and secure their dream job and hundreds of companies attract, engage, and importantly retain top talent. She believes that all of us can take our careers from stuck to unstoppable and wants to help people come alive at work. Once again, Tracy, it’s great to have you on the show.
Adam, I’m excited. Thank you for that beautiful reading.
It was reading because that’s a lot and not always a lot, but there are some tongue twisters in there. That was good right after lunch and the post-lunch lethargy was starting to kick in. It’s like, “Can you say this? Can you do this?” We stuck the landing there. Tracy, what’s not written in this bio that you would love for people to know about you?
This is going to sound probably counterintuitive but a lot of people consider me a career coach, but I call myself a career clarity expert because I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. It wasn’t until I made all the wrong decisions in my career and in that trajectory that I figured out which I did love. It was a sculptor taking a big rock and chipping away at what it’s not to reveal what it was. Something that most people don’t know about me is I look like I’ve got it all together and I’ve always had it all together, but the truth is, what I do and what our mission is important to me because I’m a product of the process myself. I was stuck and miserable in a job that I hated and now I’m building a business that I believe in and working on a problem that I love to solve and talking about topics that I gush about. That was something I never expected could happen when I was 25 and miserable. That’s something that’s not in the pretty bio, but it’s the reason that I’m here.
There are a lot of people that are at various stages of their development in one form of misery or another. It could be the misery of not liking the people you work with, the boss you’ve got or feeling unfree. The idea of having to punch the time clock whether it’s figuratively or literally. I’ve got to tell you when I first started as a lawyer, one of the things that I resisted, and I shouldn’t even say when I first started out because I hated this aspect of the practice of law the whole way through and that was the billing. I don’t mean the act of sending out a bill, I didn’t mind sending out bills. The only thing I liked more than sending out the bills were getting paid.
When the money would come in, I felt great. What I hated was the idea of having to track all that and almost like be a taxi driver when there were such things. There are still a few taxi drivers out there but for those of you that have never somehow been in a taxi cab, the first thing you do is you get in and they would take this little lever and they push it down. I don’t even know if those levers still exist, but they would start the meter running. This idea of the meter running is embedded in the legal profession. “I’m going to talk to my lawyer,” is that means the meter is running. This is funny, but lawyers bill in point six increments, meaning six minutes or 1/10th of an hour.
In six-minute increments, you bill people for the time you spend talking to them about the weather, their case, or whatever. It could be a lot of things that get built. This idea of running a meter on conversations, my work and my own time and putting a value, $1 value on it, it’s $400, $500 an hour. I started out, it was $180, $200 an hour. Something did not sit well with me. There were a lot of people that are out there resisting or pushing back on some of the circumstances of their work life. Tell us a little bit about, how you started maybe what that first experience was like or when you got to be 25 and miserable, what was it that created the misery? Why don’t we talk about the happy stuff right out of the gate?
It goes all the way back to my childhood, honestly, which I’ll go through quickly, but I was a black belt box-checker kid. If you gave me a goal, I was like, “That’s what I’m doing. I’m going to get the A, be the first chair and be varsity.” I was the achiever and the performer. Going to college was an obvious next thing but I had to go to the best college and I had to get recruited to play my sports. I ended up going to Yale, which was great, and outside of the spectrum of expectations for my family, both my parents were from Illinois. I went to public school. I’m an only child from Texas. I didn’t have any ties to Yale. I get there and it’s a school full of performers and achievers, the type-As and, “I’m a better box-checker than you.” When it came around to figuring out what we all wanted to be when we grew up, Yale does a great job of funneling people into some specific industries.There is a line between success at any cost and success that you can sustain longer. Click To Tweet
They have a ton of connections with finance, with consulting, great relationships with grad schools, even a lot of people that go into public service and ended up, Yale produced of seven presidents or something like that. In the absence of you feeling like anyone of those where your true calling, it felt like you’re on the outskirts because everybody’s competing for these same rules. If it’s not for you, then it’s like, “Am I not enough, or should I want that?” You play a lot of those mental games that a lot of us play well into our adulthood as well of comparison. That’s how I wound up getting a job on Wall Street even though I had a degree in Psychology and two classes in Math in my entire time in college. One of those was Psychology Statistics.
Psychology is a great prep for Wall Street though, isn’t it?
You would be amazed. It’s funny, I wrote my senior thesis, which every Yale undergraduate has to do on premature infant development. How do you optimize the neonatal ICU environment to have better patient outcomes and to have more well-adjusted children who were born significantly premature, which was a psychological study? There are a lot of things you can do with that. I used to tell people that I used my thesis every single day because managing traders was like managing infants.
Infants weren’t yet fully formed.
I was working on a trading floor and I was in the sales capacity. I had traders that I worked with to make transactions and then research staff that helped us. I worked on the credit side. We were buying and selling junk bonds back in the day when that took humans to do, which it still does in some capacity. I got into it and was like, “Maybe I’ll like it and I’m a fast learner. I’m smart. I’m an athlete.” I went into it in full faith thinking, “This isn’t where I thought I’d be, but I didn’t want to be a counselor or a psychologist.” I knew I didn’t want to go into working in a patient environment. This is what everybody else is competing for so it must be good and it paid well.
It allowed me to start a life on my own and be independent, which was important to me and it paid a lot. I did that for two and a half years. Within the first six weeks, I had an inkling that there was something wrong, that something about this environment, the subject matter, or the people were off but box-checker, performer, achiever, it was the goal. I was going to be the best. I spent the whole first year trying to find ways that I could add value that I was better at, than bond math, smooshing clients because I was 22 and taking guys out. It was a mess. When you get to the point where you’re unhappy doing what you’re doing, you go through a series of realizations.
It’s starting with denial.
They’re attempting to push back on your cognitive dissonance because your brain knows that you’re not happy, but your body’s not moving. You reach a point where you’re like, “This tension is not viable anymore.” Either you have to train your mind to think or you have to physically do something else. In the absence of the courage to leave my job, I was like, “I’ll alleviate this cognitive dissonance with changing my beliefs around this work.” Every so often I would do that until it got to the point of no return where I was at a wedding, visiting friends that I knew from high school.
If you know me for five minutes, you’ll know I love weddings because I love wine and dancing and I love, love. I’m a hopeless romantic. Instead of being at this wedding, dancing and spending time with my friends, I was sitting outside on the curb, sweating and crying because all I could think about was going back to work on Monday and how much I didn’t want the weekend to end. I talked to people like that all day long, who dread and their soul is being crushed. We also work with incredible people who want to level up. They’re tired of not living and working in their career with intention, which is the same action. It just comes from a different motivation.
It’s interesting because when you change your beliefs to match your environment as you say, your body is a bit of a lagging indicator. For me, what that looked like was when I turned 31 or 32, I started to see my hair thinning. I said, “It’s great, it had a hair,” even though it’s an ironic thing that when I met my wife, we were in college and I was a swimmer. I used to shave my head for competitive swimming. It’s ironic that I stopped swimming because for some reason we won’t get into, I couldn’t get out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to go and jump in a cold pool anymore at a certain point. She says, “It would be great to see what your hair looks like.” My hair grows in. Fast forward, we get married and start having kids. I’ve got this great Joey Tribbiani hair. I’m a lawyer now, newly minted. I passed the bar and start my practice. I’m 3, 4 years in and my hair is starting to go.
That cognitive dissonance that you were talking about, I knew early on that it was exciting, but yet I didn’t know that I would have said, “This is what I would have been doing when I was 10, 15, 20 years old, even.” I thought at that time the people I most respected in the world, which would have been my parents, my grandmother, one of my grandparents in particular that they would have had the highest respect for what I did for a living. Meaning if they knew, if they were sitting on my shoulder every day, listening to my conversations and saw my actions and what I was doing, that they would be proud of this person. Those disconnects, my body was the lagging indicator because my body began to change. Your beliefs, you had this conscious seemingly a conscious effort to bring yourself on board, “I’m in a great place. I should be happy. I’m making all this money. People would kill for my job.”
If I had a dime, I said that to myself all the time.
Did you feel like your identity was changing? At a certain point, when we play those head games with ourselves and we go, “If I say, I’m this way enough, I’ll become that way.” If I say, “I love this, I like this, or I’m open to this.” You say it enough you begin to truly believe it and your identity changes. Is that what you experienced? Is that what you see with other people?
I’m glad you asked that because it’s the latter part of the story that I began where I was at this wedding, I’m sitting outside crying. I can’t bring myself to go back inside where everybody’s happy and having fun. One of my best guy friends at the time came out and sat on the curb next to me and he’s like, “What is going on with you?” I’m anxious about this. To mention the physical piece, I was having real anxiety, shooting pains in my back, weird tingles that I’d never felt before, and real manifestations of anxiety and stress. He was like, “This is not you.” When somebody who’s known you since you were 15, 16, and you had many fewer cares than you have now, even though being 15 or 16 is apparently extremely stressful. This mirror that I couldn’t ignore, this guy looking at me, who’s known the best version of me presumably who was carefree and didn’t stress so much, for him to say, “This isn’t you, where did you go?” The first time where I was forced to look at myself and think, “Is this the person that I want to be? Is this the best version of me? Is it worth it?”
In my business, we draw a line between success at any cost and sustainable success that you can sustain over a longer period of time because it doesn’t require something of you that is impossible to continue giving. This job was requiring me to be a person that took a lot of effort to become and thus wasn’t sustainable over the long haul but it was in my mind what I had said successful people do. I was either having to redefine success, which was terrifying, or continually double down and try to get better. That’s the catch-22 that a lot of people are going through that puts them in this total paralysis mode of, “I don’t know what I’m running towards. In the absence of a goal, I’m going to stay with what I have is comfortable.” Having to rewire or rewrite your entire definition of what a career is, what success is or what people are going to think is impressive and how much do you even care about what other people think when your whole life you’ve been trained to do things because of the goal, the outcome, go to school to get As.
It’s the approval and validation.
All of it. It’s you having to deeply question some of your foundational beliefs about life and how the world works. To do that alone and in a vacuum is scary. It took me longer than I wish it did, but it took me not nearly as long as it takes a lot of the people that we end up working with. I found that I was a rare 25-year-old to question those things more often than not, our clients are into their 30s, at least if not a little bit older than that. They finally come to a point where maybe they were more adaptable than I was so they could last longer than I could. One thing I know about myself is, if I’m not in a place where I want to be, other people can tell. It shows.
You don’t have a poker face for that.
No, I’m good at poker, but if I’m unhappy, you’re going to know it. If I’m happy, you know it. If I’m uncomfortable, my face tells its own story.
Why don’t dive into the process? I’m a process guy. By that, I mean it’s great to have goals. Outcomes are important, but outcomes without a process are ineffectual. At least in my experience of that is the case. Think about somebody that goes to the Olympics or the people that end up in the Olympics are the best of the best. They’re the ones who’ve been striving for a long time and not the majority, but the vast minorities of those people that end up at the Olympics win a medal. My theory is that the only difference between those people that stand on the podium with the medal around their neck than the ones that don’t is the process that they used to train and to be there mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. Process is a big deal and it’s also something we can analyze, look at, and debrief.
What was your process like? You’re 25, you’re ahead of the curve in terms of discovering, being aware of your misery and not just being aware of it, but wanting, needing, and choosing to do something about it? That’s a rare thing. I agree with you, people go ten years minimum. In a blink of an eye, it’s ten years and they wake up one morning and they go, “This is my life.” I was looking in the mirror, I put my feet on the floor in the morning and feeling this early sensation of dread, this mild, low-level anxiety before I even had coffee, I flipped anybody off on the way to the tunnel, I had my first conversation with an adversary or a judge, I was already in that angst mode. It took me a long time to be looking in the mirror and having an honest conversation through my own eyes, looking into my own soul and saying, “Is the money the only thing that you can hang your self-esteem on anymore?” It was about money at a certain point for me. What was your process like at 25?
I’ll tell you that it’s much more efficient now. The way that I like to describe this to people is I was my own first client in a sense, me figuring out who I wanted to be in the world and where I added value and what I’m naturally gifted at, my niche. That process was miserably circuitous, inefficient, and oftentimes ineffectual. I equate it to like me being in a dark room with the goal of getting to the other side with no flashlight and there’s crap all over the floor. It’s like you’re stumbling, falling, kicking things, and hitting your shin falling down. My process took about two years of discovery to be able to articulate that value that I added, be confident and clear with it. Honestly, ripping off the Band-Aid for me, which was quitting that job. I had gotten to such a level of misery that it was after that specific weekend on my flight home, that I sat down and wrote my, “I’m quitting speech.”
I went in the next day and I quit. I got lucky we were short-staffed by then. The United States had been downgraded by S&P. It was the end of 2012 and we had lost a ton of people. They were like, “Please, we need you. Please stay. We’ll give you some options.” What I did with that was I built in this nice little buffer period where all my cards were on the table. I didn’t have to waste the energy of pretending anymore, and I could do the bare minimum and still add value and still leave every day with energy to explore and to figure out what I wanted to do. That process isn’t going to work for every single person every time and quite frankly, I did it with the full ownership that they may give me the door immediately after that conversation.
I find that the number of times that I’ve advised clients to do that, and it’s been few and it’s been for the right ones, that transparency of putting out there in the world to the right people like, “I’m not happy here.” A, they’re probably going to be surprised because they’re as focused on themselves as you’re focused on yourself and B, it’s highly likely that they’re going to want to help you in some way and because you’re adding value somewhere in the business. That gave me space to then alleviate some of the anxiety and stress so I could open my creative mind again. I’ve always been a big fan of efficiency.It's up to you to listen and take action when something resonates because otherwise, those opportunities are going to go away. Click To Tweet
If I can get somewhere in two steps, I’m not going to take three. I don’t like to waste time because I am aware of this one life, you’re breathing and go do something and maybe that’s anxiety-driven. I don’t know but it’s fine. What I did was, I had a handful of ideas. I could either get a new job and if I wanted to do that, I was going to do a total departure from Wall Street. I was going to do something maybe in social enterprise or nonprofit. I was going to do something for people or I was going to go back to school. I had a bunch of friends who had gotten their Master’s or MBAs and they all had fun and it looked great. That was at least punting the problem or I was going to do the whole Millennial nomad thing where I could work on a farm and that could pay for my housing and I could be in New Zealand.
I was 25, give me a break. I was on the trading floor one day and I got up to walk to the bathroom and I had hung up the phone with my mom saying something to the effect of, “I’m going to quit.” I put everything in storage and buy an STA around the world ticket and be done with it. I hung up the phone, walking to the bathroom and one of my coworkers, Martin, we called him the Silver Fox. He’s from Oklahoma and he had this gorgeous head of silver hair. He’s leaning back in his chair and he’s talking about how his son had gotten back from this thing called a Semester at Sea. He said, “It’s this cool thing where these kids took this entire trip around the world.” I went, “I can take a sign, God. Thank you. I get it.”
I trotted right back to my desk. I googled Semester at Sea, the next trip was the spring of 2013. It was called Trip Around the World and they took graduate students. You could apply as a non-undergrad or grad student. I looked at it and I thought, “If there was ever a way to test drive these three ideas in an efficient way, this is it.” I got to test going back to school, traveling and see if I could do that alone or if that’s what I wanted to do full-time and I got to test this whole world of social enterprise because there was a social enterprise incubator that was sailing on the ship for that semester. It was perfectly serendipitous. I could never have engineered it, but I was listening. I tell people that all the time like, “It’s up to you to be listening and to take action when something resonates because otherwise, those opportunities are going to go away.”
I did. I went on a Semester at Sea. I was 25 years old. I was mama bear on the ship but all 18, 19, and 20-year-old is traveling around the world and we took classes when we were on the ship and we traveled when we weren’t. It was by far the best decision I’ve made as an adult. It was one of the most dynamic experiences of my life. I got to see 30 plus countries in the span of five months, backpacked around Europe afterwards and it’s the mentors or the students I met and the travel experiences that were the bulk of my Tracy Renaissance. I reignited, “Who am I?” I’m best around younger people. They give me energy and I can see myself living on it.
Did you figure that out about yourself?
I did. I figured out how to leverage my work experience at the bank that I had been at, even though I didn’t want to touch finance with a 10-foot pole ever again. I had some incredible mentors who provided excellent mirrors and great tools to see myself more objectively and to figure out how I added value naturally. Meaning that I had always seen success as one thing, and I’m going to have to fit into this mold. If that’s the case, then there’s always inherently something wrong with you if you’re not a perfect fit for that mold. What I learned from them was that there are ways to add value that companies and world needs and wants that aligned with your personality, gifts, talents, experience and values. All our job is as the asset is to figure out what that value is, and then go out and articulate it to the world. That’s the process that we teach. I went through it in a messy circuitous, expensive way. If you have the time and the money, you can do it.
The gaining space is a big deal to be able to get some distance creatively and as you said, to have the energy to explore. There are a lot of people that potentially don’t have the ability let’s say to take 5 or 6 months to do that but you said testing and testing is a big deal. When Pivot came out, one of the big things that we talk about here, because interestingly yours was about a two-year process, mine was about two and a half. It involves something similar to that testing, which is building another bridge, or sometimes called a plan B without tearing down the plan A or tearing down the bridge.
We liked the bridge analogy because you understand physically. I’m a visual learner anyway. I can visualize what it looks like if there’s a bridge, it’s connecting two points, you’re on one side, you tear down the bridge, and you’re stranded. In fact, we have a house on the Cape and spend quite a bit of time there and there’s this waterway that we drive across to get to this other town. When we were starting this process, when I was writing the book, I’d already pivoted but didn’t fully understand what I had done. It was so face-pressed up against the glass. I didn’t have a lot of perspective on it.
Driving across this bridge they were doing some construction and I thought it was interesting. We pulled over and we asked what they were up to. This was one of those old New England bridges. They get tons of Nor’easters. You were in Connecticut. You know what those weather systems can be like. They said, “This bridge might not last another winter so we’re building another bridge.” I thought, “This is perfect.” We’re driving over the old bridge, but they’re building a new one. I thought, “This is a great pivot analogy.” You don’t tear down the old bridge before the new one is constructed.
I thought it was wonderful, but it got better because they had completed the new bridge. They tore down the old one and they were building again. We’re like, “Somebody got the greatest contract.” It’s millions of dollars. It’s six years into this project. They’re still not done. What are they up to now? We pulled over again. They said, “The bridge we built was the temporary bridge.” It looked darn permanent to us, but no, it was a temporary bridge and now they were building the 100-year bridge. I thought, “That’s even richer.” The things that you will pivot into, let’s say you are on that exploration you have and you said something, which I want to come back to you about, which is the energy to explore.
Let’s say you do have the energy to explore and you do find something that would represent that new bridge that might be a temporary bridge. Pivoting is not a one and done thing. I don’t know that you go from one career into another and then you’re finished. You didn’t go to Semester at Sea and then, magically your path became clear. The people you work with, I imagine that idea of testing out something new and building a new bridge, learning something in the process is only the beginning of that journey, not nearly the end. Has that been your experience as well?
One hundred percent and I learned on Semester at Sea, it was my first baptism into the world of design thinking, which if you’re familiar with, is primarily used to create products and services and sometimes even software. I looked at it as an amazing way to create a life. What if we could use those same principles of coming up with a lot of viable ideas, and then instead of jumping to a full-time job, jumping to a commitment to three-year university for several hundred thousand dollars or jumping to starting a whole brand-new business from scratch with no savings? Instead of making these huge leaps, what if we could rapidly prototype our ideal or even the life we think we want and test it out and then learn from it, and then rapidly ideate solutions to make that prototype better?
As if it were a product you think about that. You wouldn’t continue to pursue a product that wasn’t fulfilling its purpose or if you were, you’d create version 2, 3. You look at any of the products that we use continually or upgrade our phones, for example.
What was ever wrong with the first iPhone?
Nothing. It was a massive leap from what we had come to expect from a phone before that.
At version 56, people will still be buying it because it’s the natural evolution in the process. Why should we be any different?
From your mouth to everyone’s ears who need it. When I created The Nth Degree as our proven process for how to do this, it’s a circle. It’s an evolutionary process where you start with now, you end with the end of the process but as your life evolves, you evolve and your circumstances change. There’s nothing constant about life. If we’re not proactively doing the now phase once a year or every other year, we get behind the eight-ball in our own evolution and careers. It’s how we wind up out of the driver’s seat of our own lives and you feel like the wheels are coming off and you have no control over anything. It’s because you didn’t proactively create iPhone 10 and 11 in your own life. It’s a big pill to swallow though. When you’re in your twenties and you’re thinking, “I’ve got to figure it out. Once I find my job, I’m going to be happy and have a good life and get married.”
It’s almost like a set it and forget it thing. You think that you get the right job, spouse, and house that you don’t have to do much. You can just dial it in. I’m doing a little Larry David here, “How’s your life?” “My life is pretty good.” I don’t know about that.
We think that there’s an end-all-be-all perfect solution.
Why couldn’t you continue to ideate this version that the version is now? It’s not a bad thing. I don’t feel like you should be judging it as much as being aware. The way you would be aware of a product that if it didn’t have a certain level of quality let’s say of the camera, for example, would you be okay with that? Would you be accepting of that? Would you ignore the fact that other people could produce a better camera on a similar, comparable product? Would you work at figuring out how to produce that?
The leap that we’re all going to have to make to embrace that idea is the idea of letting go of our own perfection scenario of we’re getting to an end state that is perfect, that even exists. I still bristle at that, wouldn’t that be nice if I could relax and we can make billions laying in bed petting my kittens? I love that, but it does. It requires you to let go of the fear of being wrong and failure and seeing the iterations of your life and your career as leveling up, not a series of failures or getting it wrong. One of the business coaches I love, she gave me the grace of giving me this example.
She was like, “When you start out at this version of your you subzero and you subzero creates goal subzero.” As you’re progressing towards goal subzero without realizing it, you become you version one. You version sub-one creates goal versions sub-one, and you keep progressing towards that and then you become you, version two. It’s this beautiful spiral up but if your only goal is the outcome is getting to the goal, then what could look like an evolutionary forward, uplifting and progressive process, looks like a series of failures. You never made it to any of your goals.
It’s what we said. It’s focusing on the outcome versus the process. This is tying back to that old adage about enjoying the ride or the journey that like James Taylor sings, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Can you enjoy the passage of time while you’re still pursuing what it is that you’re called to pursue?” That’s a tricky bit and I want to ask you a question about resilience, because in everything that we’re discussing, a person that runs out of steam and energy, as you said, the energy to explore. If you don’t have the energy to explore, what’s the likelihood that you’re going to find what you’re looking for? What’s the likelihood that you’re going to find “answers” for yourself, not answers with a big A but the little A answers that are all about you being you, being comfortable being you?Nothing is constant in life. If we don’t proactively do the now phase from time to time, we get behind the eight-ball in our own evolution. Click To Tweet
That requires energy. It requires time and being in the game long enough to figure shit out. We all know that everything is iterating faster and companies are in many ways, running more of an exhaustion model than they’ve ever run before. I don’t mean companies. I mean, the entrepreneurial paradigm in many ways is being driven by that, “I’m going to run myself as hard as I have to for as long as I have to until I succeed at all costs.” There’s a massive cost to that exhaustion. From our standpoint, the cost is you may not see the fruits of your labor because you ran off the road into a ditch. You flat out imploded before you would have otherwise been able to figure things out in the normal ordinary course of evolution.
Here’s a great example, we did have the capacity many years ago to fly to the moon or land on Mars. Everything that was required, all the resources were in the ground. Everything was possible as much then as it is now, but we lacked awareness. Even the belief let’s say that it was possible but if we’d had that belief and if we’d had that awareness, there’s no question it could have been done. Evolution takes time. That’s the point and why should it be any different for us? For you, in the concepts that you share with people the work that you do to help them in their pivots, or transitions, how important is resilience in that equation? Does that come up? Do you have discussions about how people build resilience and how they define it, or how you define it?
I didn’t realize the importance of it up until now. Several months ago, The Nth Degree only had five major steps to it. We went through, “Where are you now? What’s your nature? Where’s your nurture, added value with knowledge, skills, and expertise? How do you properly leverage your network to navigate and do that design thinking piece to get to your ideal future state faster?” I thought that was enough. I didn’t realize that we were doing people massive disservices because we didn’t have a final piece that I have that’s called nourish. It came up because I was having many people who were burning out pursuing their own dream. We had this massive breakthrough of like, “You went from I’m a two on clarity, confidence, and certainty to I’m a nine on all three.”
Yet, even though they have this vision of exactly what they’re made for and what they want to do, they were getting exhausted through the process of going through the job search and making that transition. It’s easy and tempting to put a Band-Aid on it, go right back to what you were doing before. Maybe one day this opportunity will fall into my lap. We added nourish with purposefulness to say, “What are you doing to reconnect to the reason that you’re doing this in the first place? How are you consistently reminding yourself of that vision and the juiciness of it?” The reason that you started on this journey in the first place. It comes down to three things.
One of them is your support system. If you don’t have a place to go to recharge, whether it’s people or space, it’s easy to get exhausted and burned out. When I need my resilience ticked up a little bit, I go to the people in my life who fill me back up. Knowing who those people are, is crucial. I also didn’t even realize I did this. The second thing is that I call it a motivation bank. I’m a visual person as well. When I’m down, I like to do things that are visually stimulating, that I equate to something positive. If I’m sad, I’ll drink champagne because champagne is equated to a celebration in my mind. It is a trigger to turn my brain around a little bit.
When I was on Semester at Sea, I created this little folder on my desktop called happiness, love, and joy. Anytime I saw a beautiful or inspiring picture or meme, I drop it in there. Whenever I got down, I opened that and I’d scroll through the pictures. I’ll be stupid. One would be Nutella and then the next one would be a squirrel that photobombed something and then the next one would be this beautiful image of the earth. It was my motivation bank and I went back to it to remind myself, like, “Why are you here? Why does this matter? Why is it worth pushing through?”
All of that leads to ultimately the last thing which is, you have to have a deep understanding of your own personal why. It’s more than the Simon Sinek Start With Why piece. It’s a deep connection to living with purpose and intention and seeing the alternative as unacceptable. If you don’t have that, when the going gets tough, you’re going to go back to Wall Street and pick up your lawyer’s pants. If you don’t have a serious connection with the why behind what you’re doing and see a life that’s purpose-driven and intentional as a necessity, then when it gets hard and people’s expectations are poured back on you or your doubts and limiting beliefs come along when there’s a bump in the road, it’s easy to give up. For me, those three things contribute to my personal resilience and it’s something that we teach people to shore up their energy for the long haul.
Is there one ritual that you practice on a daily basis that helps you to be and create more resilience?
I wish I could say yes and I am going to say, yes. I’m not a routine person, but I am coming around in my early 30s to this idea that routine will set you free. It was Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent, I happened to be Catholic and practicing. I start and deeply thought because the purpose of Lent is to remind yourself that you’re dependent on something bigger than you and to reconnect with that energy and with God and repent and all those things. Ideally giving up something is how you remember that you are dependent and that you’re not always in control. It leaves space for filling that thing that you’re giving up with something better, with something that’s going to help you grow spiritually.
I decided to give up worrying and I do this a lot. I’m an anxious person by nature. I worry instead of work, pray, go to my motivation bank, or calling a friend. This is going to be my practice and if you want to pick this up with me, if you’re reading, please do it. I’m going to give up worrying, which means anytime that I recognize that I’m in a state of worry, panic or anxiety without doing anything about it, I’m going to acknowledge that. I’m going to gently release the worry and I’m going to replace it with something proactive. Whether that’s a prayer or deep breath, we’ll see what it is, but I’m excited about it.
I’m thrilled to hear you say that I’m thrilled for you, and this is major good luck with that. I want to resource you a little bit more potentially which is to make reference to a book that I read. It’s not even a book. It’s a pamphlet called The Seven Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox. A teacher wrote this beautiful and difficult diet called The Seven Day Mental Diet. I was a worrier and I still am. I can’t say I’ve given up worrying because it is sometimes a little bit of our makeup but I don’t do this anymore, which is I to say, “I can’t win without worry.” I said that as a lawyer a lot. Worry is the cost.
Insecurity is the cost of security thing or the cost of winning. I don’t know about that but it was deeply troubling. I have enjoyed this conversation and I know people will benefit tremendously from everything you shared. I have personally enjoyed the time, Tracy. Thanks for being a guest on the show. I’ll remind everybody that, routines can set you free and rituals for us are these more conscious habits. My habit has been to wake up in the morning and I’m going to engage in that habit again, that ritual. How about you, Tracy? Will you join me?
I will and I’m going to have an amazing day. I’m going to Phoenix. I’m going to see some old friends. It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be life-giving.
That’s part one, wake up. Part two how about some gratitude? How about the opportunity at that moment to have a sense of the fact that it’s a blessing to be alive, no matter what may be going on during the day, what you might be looking forward to anticipating, or maybe there’s some worry that’s possibly also true? I’m not a big fan of pretending things aren’t when we know practically speaking that there are these realities. It’s not to pretend that they’re not there, but simply to shift our focus, maybe from worry to gratitude. At that moment, what can you be grateful for? There are many things that the list is exhaustive. Lastly to say something either inside or to declare it out loud, my words are always the same.
I say, “I love my life.” Those four simple words have created great freedom and tremendous appreciation for my own being as well as for the fact that I’m a part of this amazing universe. I give thanks to God at that moment as well with those words. What are your words? What are the words that you can state affirmatively out loud when you wake up to express your gratitude, as well as what’s real for you? I’m going to leave you all with that. Again, please let us know your thoughts about the show. Go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts to leave a comment. If you haven’t subscribed do that, leave a review and let us know your thoughts and we’ll pass them on to Tracy as well. Visit her website to find out more about The Nth Degree. We’ll say, “Ciao, for now, everybody.”
- The Nth Degree
- Semester at Sea
- Start With Why
- The Seven Day Mental Diet
About Tracy Timm
At The Nth Degree® Academy, we work with miserably-employed, burned out, and “stuck” professionals who are tired of settling for less than their full potential.
Do you dread going to work on Monday or live for Friday’s at 5? Do you frequently pretend to be someone you’re not to look good at work? Are you overwhelmed by the options for your next job, but underwhelmed by every position you stumble upon?
Most of all, are you afraid that you’ll never find work you love that pays you what you’re worth??
You have a lot going on, and I completely understand.
There’s no magic spell to conjure your dream job, and a resume rewrite or badass cover letter won’t provide the fulfillment you’re looking for or the strategic next step to get you there.
The only proven way to stop trading your mental or physical well-being for a paycheck and start feeling ALIVE is this:
★ Discover your true professional value
★ Define your unique career genius zone
★ Drive toward the job of your dreams
Here at The Nth Degree® Academy, we believe that there is an important purpose for your life which can be realized through your career. That’s why I founded this company. We now have a proven process to get you the clarity, confidence, and certainty you need to move forward in your life and career.
No “hacks” or “short-cuts” here. It’s going to take some commitment to make this dream a reality. But it’s not impossible. In fact, your career clarity can be as close as 30-days away.
Here’s how to start:
1. Book your FREE 50-min. clarity call with our coaches: http://meetme.so/ttclaritycall
2. Determine if you’re ready, willing, and able to commit to yourself and your career
3. If so, enroll in our proven career clarity program (and enjoy a career and life you love!)
Are you ready for finances, freedom AND fulfillment in your career?
Here are some other ways to get in touch with us:
***Pre-Order UNSTOPPABLE, your 1-stop guide to career clarity: http://unstoppablecareerbook.com/***
FREE 4-Video Career Clarity Course: https://nthdegree.tracytimm.com/free-course
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When you’re ready: FREE 50-minute Clarity Call: http://meetme.so/ttclaritycall
The Nth Degree® Academy Career Clarity Program: 30-Days to Your Dream Job
“From Stuck to Unstoppable”
Specialties: #CareerCoach #ClarityCatalyst #CareerGuide #CareerGuidance #CareerStrategy #Empowerment #ConfidenceBuilding #ProfessionalGoalSetting #CareerClarity #LeadershipDevelopment