August 27, 2019

Career Advice

Remote Work: The Mental Re-Route

By: Emily Mishler

The prospect of any major life change can not only be daunting and terrifying, but sometimes the most terrifying thing can be taking a big leap into the unknown. Whether it’s ditching the relationship, taking the promotion, leaving the job, starting the family, asking for the raise, saying “yes” or “no” to the big question–often the anxiety and tension we build up in our minds is more explosive than the actual outcome. Before I “took the leap” into full-time remote work and pivoted my life, I allowed myself to get into a mental state that I hardly recognized: making decisions out of fear, subconsciously fueled by the affirmations and accolades bestowed by others, burnt-out beyond belief, taking “no’s” personally, and feeling unequivocally professionally paralyzed by the ceilings in place. I knew I was living a life that was very different than what I knew I was capable of, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that something was off, but I didn’t know exactly what it was or how to shift it.

Last post, I briefly mentioned taking a deep dive into where you currently stand, identifying where you’d like to go, and closing the gap between the two. Answering big questions and digging into gaps you’d like to fill in both your personal and professional life is a great first step to gaining the clarity of purpose, cultivating confidence and the self-belief it takes when the path seems very winding. The following are a couple of tidbits I’ve found to be particularly helpful along the way (and wish I would’ve known or done sooner) as I prepared to jump:

1. Gauge your timing: With many things in life, there often isn’t a “right time”. Rather than waiting until you “feel motivated” or it’s the “perfect time,” stop waiting around. Often opportunities need to be seized and created rather than simply taken. Stop looking and waiting for motivation and do something. Take action–aligned, inspired action–and the motivation will follow. And although there often aren’t perfect times, there do tend to be opportunities that unfold at more opportune times than others. It may not make “the jump” less scary, but it has the potential to soften the landing a bit.

2. Self-honesty is key: Taking the time to truly understand the deeply-rooted purpose of “why” and intention behind the decisions you make and things that you harbor as truths in your life is not necessarily easy, but completely worth it. Get a better understanding of your motivations and being very intentional on a few of these questions can help mitigate cognitive dissonance as you dig into remote life. Are you more internally or externally driven or motivated? How do you allow other people and their perspectives, opinions, positions, and approaches to life to dictate or influence the decisions you make? Are  you satisfied with your current state? What can you shift?

3. Know that everything is a lesson: Didn’t get the job? Lesson. Got the second date? Lesson. Procrastinated on the report and were so stressed you didn’t produce your best work? Lesson. The quality of the life we choose, the places and environments in which we work, and what we tolerate as acceptable in our lives dictate the perspectives we obtain and the life experience we have. Once you begin to see everything as a lesson that leads you to a “more right” direction down the path that you are on, failure becomes obsolete. Failure instantly becomes a non-option. There is always a silver lining, it just may require a bit of creativity to identify and gather tidbits from. When failure becomes obsolete, it unlocks an entirely new dimension of living–what’s the worst that could happen?

4. Trust yourself and the process: You wouldn’t be having these thoughts (or reading this post) if you were completely satisfied with your current situation. Trust that. Know that you are capable of doing and creating your ideal life. Know that it takes time. Know that everything happens with purpose and for a reason (again, lesson). The unfolding may not be instantaneous, but it will certainly be worth it and isn’t possible without your taking action. As with any sound business decision, prior to jumping you’ll want to make sure you have projected possible outcomes and scenarios. It isn’t something to go crazy with, but something to keep in mind and look into. Figure out an ideal budget, income streams, workflow patterns and dig in, get clarity on the ideal situation you’d like to have, and put that plan into action. 

Remote work can be wildly collaborative and full of connection, but the nature of the remote environment also has the potential to be incredibly isolating and lonely. Taking steps to understand more about the “inner-workings” of your mind, motivations, and direction you would like to go become the blueprint when the going-gets-tough. Aligning this internal piece with practical business necessities (i.e. a budget and strategic plan) builds the beginning of a solid foundation for new opportunities without geographical boundaries. The strength of your mental fitness will absolutely be tested as you prepare to shift, and implementing these morsels into your internal dialogue may help you to mentally “train” before the “big race”. The AF Community will absolutely be there along the way to cheer you on, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I can help in any way!