As humans we’re okay with comfortable. We’re okay with secure. We’re very okay with routine. But what happens when we’re not?
Recently, that was the problem I faced. I’ve worked in the same industry, advertising strategy, for fifteen years. It’s been exciting, stressful (hello, gray hairs!), and rewarding. I’ve impacted people. I’ve reshaped some of the biggest brands in the world. I’ve connected individuals to the newest thing they love and introduced brands to individuals they never knew existed.
My business doesn’t require advanced degrees, certifications or even continuing education. Work experience and life experience are the kings and queens of this industry and what truly moves you forward. I have that in spades, but I craved more. I craved different. I knew I was not okay with just okay. So, I started an introspective journey to identify what would truly move me forward.
Here’s how I approached it:
First, I had to look inward and ask myself what I ask my clients and teams, “What’s your why?” Why did I want to learn more? Why did I want to do something different than my colleagues? Why did I seek change? The answer: I wasn’t fulfilled.
Second, I had to reframe the problem so it was actionable. Being unfulfilled is normal, especially for a Millennial like myself – 55% of us are disengaged at work according to Gallup. I flipped the problem on its head to truly define my struggle: I wasn’t being utilized to my potential, because I lost clarity on my own potential. It wasn’t my job or my bosses (they’re fantastic by the way), it was my self-belief.
Third, I needed to empower myself through education and connection. Bringing myself up – literally and figuratively – through knowledge and networks. This was the hardest part, finding that program that hit all the sweet spots. Luckily, my best friend had taken the Executive Program in Women’s Leadership at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. I saw her transform both personally and professionally in the years after she completed the program. I knew that was the journey that I needed to take as well.
I spent weeks crafting the perfect essays to accompany my application. The formal ones were thrown out. The simple ones were too. Those fell into the “okay” category that I was trying to avoid. I spoke my truth about my life stage and where I needed to change. Soon after sending my application in – and hitting reload on Gmail over and over – I got my acceptance letter. This was it. My chance to change.
It’s been mere days since I’ve gotten home from the EPWL program at Stanford. I feel like I’m soaring. The program – taught by Stanford’s renowned GSB instructors – was an intense commitment to change from every aspect of yourself. From negotiations to power to gender bias, we were taught revolutionary techniques to change in the workplace and inspire change with those around us.
What the EPWL program really gave me were the tools to go beyond surviving, they gave me the tools to thrive. Not just in the workplace, but in my personal life as well. It also gave me lifelong connections with sixty-two of the brightest women from around the globe who were seeking what I was seeking. They weren’t okay with being just okay.
I don’t know what my future holds – Stanford’s program did not give me fortune teller skills – but I do know that I’m in control of my future and how I feel going into it. I have the tools to become fulfilled and I’ve got a gaggle of smart women in my network. I’ve gotten my mojo back, so to speak.
I’ve told you my story, now I want to hear yours. How are you moving beyond okay?
Think back to a time where you invested in yourself. A $12 smoothie after a boutique fitness class doesn’t count. Can you remember a time? Has there ever been a time? If you’ve answered no or vaguely gave a shrug reading over the questions, then you haven’t truly invested in yourself. I cannot stress this enough, there’s no better time to start than now. Because I’m telling you from the other side. You can live in the okay. And that, frankly, is okay. But why take that path? Do it. Do it for you right now. And most importantly, do it for you and your future.
My future self and your future self are thanking you right now.
This article originally appeared on Ellevatenetwork.com
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