In this episode, I’m talking with Lauren McGoodwin, author of Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose. She is also the founder of Career Contessa, where she helps women build successful and fulfilling careers on their terms. Lauren’s genius lies in helping identify every size of power move you can make when you stop waiting for your dream job. We talk about why your career path looks more like a jungle gym than a ladder, why hustle culture needs to die, and why your fear of money can keep you stuck in a career you loathe.
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As always, we’ve rounded up our top three takeaways to summarize what we believe are the core points to remember from Lauren.
We’re not talking about bubble baths and spa days. (Though, do that too, that sounds great.) But getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, eating foods that fuel our bodies, and taking care of our mental health.
I know it’s not easy. Our lives are so busy (there’s that darn word again) and there are so many demands on our time, not least of which is our kids.
But we’ll never feel fulfilled in our careers—or in our lives—if we’re not taking care of ourselves. Like Lauren said today, no matter how much you think you can hide overwork—the body tells.
Whether it’s more migraines, weight gain or loss, back pain, depression, or full on burnout—we either prioritize self-care now or pay for it later.
If you’re feeling out of sorts in your career, or like something isn’t working, first try setting some boundaries and taking better care of yourself.
Maybe you’re in the wrong position and you need to pivot. But you won’t know until you’re in a healthy mental and physical place to look at it clearly. You may find you’re looking to make an external change to fix something internal.
And if you need to take a step back or hit pause on your career to take care of yourself? That’s okay. It can make all the difference in finding more success later.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of our networks. Our peers we can confide in and bounce ideas off of. Mentors that can teach us and champions that pull us up.
Yet if we want to build a powerful network, we can’t just be thinking about all that is in it for us. We have to take the time to get to know the people around us, find ways to help them, and offer to mentor those junior to us as well.
If you’re too busy for coffee with someone junior to you, why do you expect someone you want to champion you to make space in their calendar?
Lauren’s perspective that givers are generally happier and more successful at work than takers rings true. It feels good to help others. But it speaks to the fact that careers are long. We need to invest in our network and not approach people as one-off transactions.
The email Lauren mentioned in today’s interview? I’m sure she gets dozens of them. I do. Often, we just delete them. We want to help, but what they want is vague and they could have sent the same email to 1,000 people.
When building your network, don’t be that person.
Be a laser pointer, not a flood light. Instead of reaching out to 100 new people, find 5 that really align with what you want to do or learn. Take the time to learn about them (you may find their published work answers a lot of your questions!), think creatively about how you may be able to help them – or at least how you’ll let them know you want to speak to them specifically, and reach out with a concise, specific connection.
You’ll build stronger long-term connections that way.
Over your career, you’re going to go forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonal, and back again. Every woman interviewed in Lauren’s book has a career path they never would have expected. Heck, Lauren never expected to write a book! One of my mentors at my first job created her own high-level position—at a company where that was not done.
As Lauren said today, we’ve been trained to think that going any way but up is a bad thing. That we’ve failed somehow. But that’s not how careers work. We have to be open to the twists and turns and stay connected with what we want our work and life to look like.
Something that feels like a step backward—even a big step backward—might end up being the best opportunity of your life. You never know. All you can do is stay present and mindful and make decisions that are true to yourself.
Lauren McGoodwin is Career Contessa’s CEO, #1 power move advocate, and has a life mission to help women build successful and fulfilling careers on their terms. Lauren launched Career Contessa in 2013 out of her master’s thesis project to close the gap in career development resources for women. Career Contessa now helps over 2 million women each year with their careers through content, online learning courses, and job listings.
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