Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I experienced this moment of utter suffocation in my professional life. It was as if I woke up one day and realized I was trapped in a world that was constructed for me to live in — not thrive in. How could this be? I loved my profession, my industry, and even my skill set. I had excelled, been promoted, and on paper seemed to be ahead of the curve. At the time, I thought to myself, "I should not be feeling this way." Now I realize, that I had simply been taught not to feel that way. I had achieved all the things we are expected to want in life but, still, something just wasn't right.
I sat on the floor with my back up against the couch and a glass of wine in hand to have a long conversation with myself. That back up against the couch glass of wine on the floor routine has always been my power position and gotten me through many crazy times; this was no exception.
At first, I analyzed my uneasiness by rationalizing that I had met expectations that were set for me, I had passed all the finish lines for "someone my age." I should have been content with the steady growth in my career thus far — most people would agree. Prior to this conversation with myself, that would have been all the rationalization I needed to push through. But it didn't work this time, because I was calling myself to the carpet. I was still trapped. Newsflash: contentment and stability are not synonyms. And your contentment, like many things, is not one size fits all.
At first, I analyzed my uneasiness by rationalizing that I had met expectations that were set for me, I had passed all the finish lines for "someone my age."
I started asking myself, "Why did I need to put myself in a professional box that dictated my level of contentment, my career path, and my future?" Better yet, why was I so focused on the future me. I was so intensely focused on finish lines and fitting in this box of expectations, that I didn't know who the current version of myself was and I hadn't a clue that there was a world outside of that box.
I realized that my current self was never in the mix of my career advancement. So often, professional positions are just boxes that are constructed as one size fits all based on the needs of the business. There is no room for individuality, and if that's the case, I wasn't in the driver's seat of my own professional destiny. That destiny was just a long-stretching path of different boxes laid in front of me that I would be expected to squeeze myself in and out of with every professional rung I climbed.
Having a "who am I" moment is never an easy point in your life, especially when who you are might determine your stability and security in the professional sense. But I was there, I had opened Pandora's box and could never look back.
Newsflash: contentment and stability are not synonyms. And your contentment, like many things, is not one size fits all.
I had to figure out a solution sooner rather than later (I'm an impatient person). And as a business strategist, I knew I had to work with the best tool I knew how to use: strategy. I deconstructed myself as a brand for the first time in my life. This exercise elicited a storm of wisdom as I had never experienced before. It's a powerful realization when you adjust your focus from the finish line to the now.
I finally had the chance to get to know myself as a professional in the present moment — the good, the bad, the ugly. Because the truth is, each of those components contributes to my professional success. Knowing and acknowledging all of them would allow me to leverage myself in the best way possible — in a way that works for me and my goals. For once, it wasn't about who I wanted to become down the line of some five-year plan, it was about me — exactly at that moment.
Why haven't we ever been told that we can look at our current self to understand how to be our best professional self? Because one: it's not easy. And two: it challenges the one-size-fits-all mentality we've all been conditioned to be "content" with. Knowing who you are in the moment is the most critical piece of leverage that each professional needs. Imagine that, something as simple as getting to know yourself is the groundbreaking mind shift that can change your career!
I finally had the chance to get to know myself as a professional in the present moment — the good, the bad, the ugly.
We deserve better advice. We deserve to dictate our own path. We are not one size fits all.
I started out my process by outlining some specific metrics for short-term goal setting, then I started documenting everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I believe that documenting your journey is critical. First and foremost, there's a lot going on when it comes to your professional life. Having the documentation as your personal backup allows you to better reflect and analyze instead of relying on memory alone. Also, documentation provides a routine. When you routinely document, it becomes a habit. We have to be in the habit of reviewing our documentation for awareness, accountability, and stability in our goal setting. The documentation is your receipt. No receipt means no reward, just like any other business plan. Only this time, the business is you.
I even began incorporating this mindset into my management style, and it really worked. People's individuality could finally lead the way; my employees were finally able to grow in a way that worked for them. There's nothing I love more than watching other people thrive. I'm constantly asking people to identify their value proposition is every scenario, because finding out your value proposition is the key to beginning this process.
I realized, this mindset could help so many others, even more than myself and the people around me. Suddenly, I had found my own value proposition: the ability to spread this message. Before I knew it, my one-woman revolt became a revolution.
I wrote the book BYOB Revolt and created an online community where Revolters can support one another, track their progress, and participate in an online classroom for those who want an even deeper dive. My goal is for the tools of the Revolt to be accessible in every way, shape, or form to destroy the boxes we've been surrounded by for so long.
Before I knew it, my one-woman revolt became a revolution.
I refuse to believe that these professional boxes we are trapped in are in the best interest of the professionals within them. Success in the workplace should be built on empowerment and that comes from self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-accountability in your present self.
I think we've already established that I'm not one for long-term discussions, but if we want to talk about our future selves, I am living proof that you, in the current moment, are the only person that can dictate the best version of your career advancement for the future.
WRITTEN BYJennifer Fitta