I hung up the phone and began to sob into my white fluffy bathrobe.
It was 6.30am on a Friday and the sunlight was starting to stream into my hotel room in Mumbai, India.
Why was I crying?
Well, not only had it been a challenging conference call, it had been a challenging year working at my “supposed” dream job and company.
The truth was I was sinking. And sinking fast.
The workload was relentless. My health was deteriorating. And I was becoming a mean and miserable person to be around. I had no idea why my fiance still wanted to marry me.
I said yes to more work and helping out my colleagues with “just one more” thing, despite already working late nights and weekends.
I didn’t want to let anyone down and my people pleasing nature meant that I didn’t have the courage or voice to stand up for myself — let alone admit that I needed help.
In that moment sitting alone on my bed at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel, my sobs turned into full blown ugly-crying (the snotty, unattractive, wailing kind – a lot less elegant than this lady in the photo below). It wasn’t pretty.
I finally allowed myself to feel everything. The: Shame. Guilt. Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Fear.
I wasn’t happy and it was time to get honest with myself. Something had to change.
Yet, my inner mean girl kept saying:
…..Your ex-colleagues told you that working here was going to be a tough gig here. Why didn’t you listen?
….. You’re so weak and lame for not being able to keep up. You already knew going into this job that you had to work twice as hard as everyone else. They’re smarter than you are. Suck it up, already.
…..You’re such a princess. Get over yourself. You’re in a beautiful hotel. On a business trip to a country you’ve always dreamed of visiting. This is such a first world problem. You are so privileged. Just be grateful already. There are people who have it way worse than you. Just look across the street.
Until that point I didn’t allow myself to feel bad because on paper I had everything that I thought I had wanted.
I shouldn’t have been complaining about anything. Yet the truth was, I had completely lost myself.
So much so that when I went to the bathroom to splash my face with water to pull myself together, I didn’t recognize the reflection looking back at me in the mirror.
I used to be a happy and fun loving person. All I saw was a tired, dull and depleted woman who needed to make a change.
At that moment I decided that enough was enough.
I was done…..feeling exhausted, guilty, anxious and depressed.
I was done…..trying to control every outcome and other people’s opinions in order to feel “good enough.”
I wanted to be happy.
I wanted to do work that I enjoyed. I wanted a life outside of my job.
That’s when I made a decision to figure out a way out of my situation – no matter what it took.
It was time to finally answer the question I’d asked myself time and time again:
What am I doing with my life?
I hopped in the shower. Washed away my tears and vowed to figure out my purpose and how to pursue a career that actually meant something to me.
Deep down, I knew I was hardworking and that this trait would serve me well. Now, all I needed to know was what to work hard towards.
Back in Hong Kong, I signed up to see a counsellor and for the first time in my life spoke of my real feelings, had someone listen to me and support me in my struggles.
By admitting that I wasn’t happy and allowing myself to feel my sadness (rather than beating up myself over it) — I was able to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Whilst I didn’t know the specifics of where I was going next or what career I should pursue, all I knew was that working at this company, doing this work wasn’t for me.
As a people pleaser who never voiced my opinion, I was finally allowing myself to play with what I myself really wanted.
When I dropped the guilt and the “should’s”, I went back to that 10 year old girl in me. The one full of promise, hope and light. The girl that wanted to be Anita Roddick – founder of the Body Shop when she grew up. The aspiring entrepreneur who wanted to start a meaningful business as a female leader giving back to Society in a more impactful way.
Looking back, my career crisis taught me 3 key lessons that I want to share with you this week.
If you can relate to my story and are feeling something similar, I feel you. I know it’s a crappy place to be and I’m sending so much love.
My hope is that in sharing the core lessons my career crisis taught me, it can support you on your journey.
Let’s dive in!
The 3 Core Lessons My Career Crisis Taught Me
Lesson #1: Achieving goals that don’t align to who you really are at your core isn’t true “success”
My whole life I’d pursue goals that I thought would make me happy.
The degree from a famous London University. A promising career at a prestigious Investment Bank.
But the truth was, these goals were Society’s goals of success — not mine.
Whilst my ego was feeling good about what I’d created, the real me was struggling in a soul-destroying job.
With every milestone I achieved I felt a fleeting sense of pride only to feel hurried back onto the hamster wheel of “what’s next”?
The truth of what I was really feeling caught up with me. And I learned that you can’t fool yourself for very long….
At my core I was looking for a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
I truly believe that you can only find fulfilment, purpose and true “success” when you know who you truly are and have the courage to build a meaningful career from that place.
Side note: If you’re feeling lost, I created a resource to help you remember who you truly are. You can figure out your Soul Archetype over at: https://siobhanbarnes.com/soul-archetype-quiz.
Lesson #2: Letting go of the “should’s” and listening to your heart and intuition is the best way to answer the big question of “what am I doing with my life?”
Throughout my career I always felt a sense of restlessness.
I was always a curious person who loved to learn and so the busy-ness of learning a new industry and business was exciting for a while.
Yet deep down, somewhere, somehow I knew that I wasn’t doing work that felt super inspiring.
The truth was, I knew better but I ignored that inner voice. Until things got so bad that I had to listen. Your body, environment or circumstances will do that until you finally stop, listen and take action.
When you’re not following a traditional path to success, it’s up to you to figure out your own path. That can be scary – especially when you don’t know what that path looks like.
That there isn’t a cookie-cutter formula that works for everyone. We all have different skills, desires, fears, doubts and lessons to learn.
When we work with our innate strengths and skills as well as intuition and internal guidance system that’s when we can carve out our own path to success.
Lesson #3: We are all unique and have a special talent or gift to share with the world
Unfortunately we live in a world that encourages us to focus on our weaknesses and not our strengths.
It’s crazy because I believe that when you focus on honing in on your strengths and your natural brilliance – you become unstoppable.
You’re on purpose. You build confidence. You see results.
It’s a beautiful positive upward spiral that only gets better and better.
To live a life playing small and safe is such a waste. Just think of what you could contribute and the impact you could make on the world if you were working from your strengths and passionate about your day to day work.
How amazing would that be?
Today my mission is to help you find your Soul Aligned Career so that you can find your calling and purpose in this world.
I want you to be able to pursue a meaningful career or business that’s in service to both yourself and others. I want to support you in having the courage to be the leader and role model that you are.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes on my journey but getting the support I needed was what set me on the right path. Since working with my first counsellor I’ve gone on to work with different coaches and mentors to support me to get where I am today.
I’m now able to work in a business that is my passion and calling and allows me the freedom and flexibility to live a full life outside of work too.
I’m a mum to three kids and as I raise these amazing souls I believe in doing meaningful work that you love.
What our individual paths are will be different for each and everyone of us.
Some of us are meant to stay in corporate and lead with heart and compassion.
Some of us are meant to start soul-aligned businesses.
Some of us are meant to be stay at home parents and devote ourselves to raising children.
Some of us are artists, scholars and activists.
Some of us are meant to be whatever you are defining for yourself.
The vehicle and what we choose isn’t what matters.
What matters is figuring out who we are and how best to use our talents so that we can contribute to the world in the best way we know how.
The trouble is, no-one teaches us how to do this….
So how do you begin?
It all starts with knowing who you are and working with – not against – yourself.
If you’re feeling an internal voice telling you that your current career isn’t for you and that you’re here to do more meaningful work but not sure what that looks like…
Then I invite you to explore that voice and that calling and take the FREE Soul Archetype Quiz to help you start to answer that big question of “what am I doing with my life?”
I created the quiz to get you started on knowing what makes you unique so that you can start to appreciate your natural brilliance and explore the next right steps for you.
When you’re clear on who you are at your core and what’s really going to make you happy at the end of a long working day, that’s when the right options appear and you’re able to go from feeling trapped to free in a career that you actually love.
It’s time to define your own version of success and choose a path that aligns to what matters to you.
If you’re desiring support to figure out Your Soul Aligned Career, then check out my signature program to help you do just that.
You can read about all the details over at: http://yoursoulalignedcareer.com/
Before you go, I’d love to hear from you…
- Which lesson is landing for you the most?
- What’s holding you back from deciding on whether to stay or go?
I’d love to know and continue the conversation in the comments.
P.S. If you’re craving some support to figure out Your Soul Aligned Career, I’ve got you. I created a program to support you with all that you need to figure out your next steps and where you’re really meant to go next. If you’re curious to learn more, you can check out all the details over at: http://yoursoulalignedcareer.com/