By Amy Elisa Jackson
Have you ever had a great idea for a business or a project, and then gotten a nagging feeling in your gut that you probably can’t pull it off? Have you recently picked up the phone to text a friend, “What am I doing with my life”?
You’re not alone. Most, if not all of us, have been there. Stuck at a crossroads and unsure if trusting your gut is the right decision to make. Whether it’s applying for a job, angling for a promotion or considering a career pivot, we have all had phases of not feeling confident about what’s next. This is why author Maxie McCoy wrote: “You’re Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan For Finding Your Own Way.”
Speaking to women for years, the one phrase she heard over and over again was “I’m so lost.” She noticed women of all ages doubted the direction their lives were going in, and were at a loss for how to make changes — so she decided to write a tough-love guide to figuring out what you want in life and how to get it.
We caught up with McCoy to talk about the book, pushing through the feeling of being lost and how to find your own way.
Glassdoor: Career and self-help are really popular genres. What was it that pushed you to dive in head-first?
Maxie McCoy: I’d always wanted to write but I knew that I wouldn’t do it until there was a message that needed to be given birth to. When I sat down to think about all of these years of my talking to and spending time with women, the one thing that I heard over and over and over again was “I feel so lost.” It was a brick that hit my head. We have all struggled with that feeling of being lost, and there is not really an answer out there.
Glassdoor: Looking back, what was a defining moment when you felt most lost?
Maxie McCoy: I kind of joke that I feel lost every second Tuesday of the month. It’s not something that completely goes away. What I encourage is to understand that you’re going to have those feelings, but what is really going to push you through that discomfort is releasing the need to have it all, to have the big picture figured out.
The times that I have felt the most lost have been when my big goal stopped serving me. It’s when I accomplished something and then felt a total lack of fulfillment or satisfaction. You’ve checked it off the list, but now what? I think we’ve all be there, right? We’ve got the promotion or we got the new job or we got the pay raise and then a month in it’s like, “Okay, but this is still my life.”
Glassdoor: In the book, you kick things off by telling readers that they need a “deep, deep sense of self-believe. We’re talking an ocean of it, swelling to the stars.” What is self-belief? Is it different than self-esteem?
Maxie McCoy: Self-belief is really about believing that whatever you do is going to have a positive outcome, so it’s a skill-set. It’s something that can be exercised, whereas self-esteem is believing that you deserve to be on the planet and that you’re worthy of being here. And that is definitely a foundation block that requires a lot of support, can require a lot of internalization and self-reflection. Self-belief does also, but it’s not coming from that place of worthiness, it’s just coming from that place of knowing that my actions are going to have a positive outcome and believe in that.
You don’t need to know where you’ll end up in order to begin. —Maxie McCoy
Glassdoor: That’s particularly applicable for employees and job seekers.
Maxie McCoy: Self-belief is one of those things that you need to navigate a salary negotiation or going into interviews. You need it at almost every step and every day. There’s a lot going on around us that tells us to not believe in ourselves and to change in order to be successful. However, self-belief is one of the things that I think is core to beginning the process of taking action every day within the context of your career.
Glassdoor: Throughout the book, you’ve inserted these really motivating little caveats called “You Got This.” I was afraid that these were going to be reminiscent of Lean In, but they weren’t. As the author, you’re more like a supportive friend or coach rather than an ideal executive.
Maxie McCoy: I included these because of the impact that social media is having on us. I’ve read a statistic that a third of us feel unhappy after we are just scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. We’ve got to recognize how much our feelings are being affected by these outside factors and the highlights on social media.
We have to be willing to embrace the small wins, and the small moments that might feel boring, that might feel mundane. Sure, we might have those big, glorious Instagram moments, but we should also celebrate the daily meaningful satisfaction of a career that gives us fulfillment. Life is filled with small steps; taking small step after small step. And from a generational perspective, one of the things that I think is really helpful is to explore the small steps of people I genuinely admire, like Ava DuVernay. There were so many micro-moments in her journey and career that didn’t get any kind of glory until ten years later. When you can look at other people’s lives and their journeys and what it actually took to get where they are, you’ll see that most of that wasn’t glorious at all. It was just about doing the [freaking] work.
Glassdoor: Encouraging people to take the small steps and celebrate the micro-moments is essential especially to Millennials and 20-somethings.
Maxie McCoy: Another thing that’s really really important in the context of worrying about being lost is we are very roadmap- and goal-oriented. We are always looking forward, but one of the more powerful things that can give us insight is looking back and reflecting. Reflection can give you so many nuggets of information not only about what you’ve done well, but what you’ve done and care to never do again. Look back on the last five years, and look back on this week. Ask yourself, “What did I do really well? What did I do that gave me energy?”
Glassdoor: You’ve made several career changes, from sports broadcasting to tech to entrepreneurship. What advice do you have for people considering a career change?
Maxie McCoy: One of the daunting things about a career change is that so often we haven’t done it before. You’ve never actually been a coffee roaster but you have all of this experience in project management or client development. In those situations, as in mine, one of the things that can be really powerful is a belief in ourselves. You have the skill set, you just have to act as if you deserve to be there. It’s not faking it ’till you make it. It’s really just acting like you know that you deserve to be there and that you do have really varied experience that will lend itself to the new role.
There’s all of the research that shows all of this. If you clench your fist, you have more willpower. If you sit in a hard chair, you negotiate better. If you act like you’re in love, you literally feel like you’re in love. Smiling releases dopamine. If we are acting in the pursuit of our future dreams, it will come back to actually feel like it for ourselves. Feel like we deserve to be there and enroll the right people in, which I think is really powerful in job interviews. I think it’s really powerful when we’re trying to get people to invest in our business idea or invest in mentorship in us or hire us. It’s acting like we know we’re meant to be there. “Fake it ’til you make it” is bullsh*t because you deserve to be there. You just need to practice.
Originally published at www.glassdoor.com