Are you one of the lucky people who wakes up every morning eager to get out of bed? Or do you linger under the covers, dreading the day in front of you? Do you envy people who get up at 5:30 am, meditate for 20 minutes, go to the gym, then power through a productive day, accomplishing their goals? Are those people just lucky to be extremely passionate about their work and lives? Or do they have a special formula that enables them to be extremely efficient?
Many people grapple with this question. I am a staunch believer that we are each in control of our destiny and that we must take responsibility for our own happiness. Of course, there are external factors we cannot control that can create obstacles to success, but think of all the entrepreneurs and women in business who – against all odds – overcame challenges and excelled to either build great businesses or become CEOs. I believe we should maximize what we have – not focus on what we don't have, or blame external circumstances.
This starts by leading a life of gratitude. Be thankful for where you are, today – for your health, your family, the wave of your two-year-old child, the tulips that come out in the spring, and the scent of the earth after it rains. Gratitude leads to happiness, and happiness leads to increased positive outcomes. I discovered this truth after I read Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage. He recommends doing the following five things every day for 21 days:
1. Meditate for two minutes.
2. Exercise for 15 minutes.
3. Write down three things you are thankful for.
4. Spend two minutes writing about a positive experience.
5. Do one kind act for someone else (this could be anything from an encouraging email to simply holding open the door for someone).
I tried this exercise for 21 days and was lifted out of my fog of inertia and compelled to pursue other activities. But is happiness the only thing that separates those who achieve their dreams from those who don't? Happiness creates an enabling environment for more positive things to come. With an optimistic mind, you start to see that your life does not have to move along by default. Instead, you can steer your own direction with a clear set of goals. Too often our dreams diminish as we age and the responsibilities of adult life take over. So how do you keep those dreams alive? In my recently published eBook, Guide for Ladies Who Relaunch, I lay out 7 Ps for a Successful Career Pivot. I will discuss three of those 7 Ps below:
First, decide what you really want in life. This step is by far the most important and is often influenced by fear, lack of belief in oneself, other people's expectations, or financial and lifestyle considerations. It is important to take time to figure out where you get your spark – that thing that will get you out of bed in the mornings, excited to start your day. And while you may not be able to plunge into creating that dream business or job right away, perhaps there are smalls steps toward reaching your goal that you can take every day. Often career pivots take place gradually.
People buy into the leader, before they buy into the vision - John Maxwell
Personal branding defines you and includes your skills, your values, your social media presence, your network, and the industry you belong to. If you haven't yet been decisive about your personal brand, once you have found your purpose, join relevant groups on LinkedIn, comment on posts in your field of interest, or start a blog. Having a strong personal brand will help you in your conversations as you try to make a career pivot in the corporate world or launch a new business.
Panel of advisors
We all need a support group with whom we meet regularly to discuss our goals, exchange ideas, and help us to expand our network. This group champions your dreams and encourages you to move forward. Many of us already have such a group, although we may not call it a panel of advisors. This group may include friends, family, and professional connections. For female entrepreneurs, I recommend regularly connecting with other more successful entrepreneurs in your field. Ideally, this panel includes someone who is several steps ahead of you in your dream field and who can mentor you. Many individuals also have sponsors – an individual willing to bat for you in a new role or in a new business and whose reputation will help you. For example, if you are starting a technology company, a sponsor may help you source investors, identify a co-founder, and source new board members. A sponsor can help open many doors for your business. Remember: no one is an island.
And of course, mentor and sponsor relationships should be reciprocal, so you should give a lot in return.
Making a career change can be a daunting task, especially when you think about how you are going to get from point A to point Z. But when you break it down into smaller steps, you can get there. First, lead a life of gratitude, and happiness will then follow. And once you are in a positive frame of mind, define your purpose, your personal brand, and build your panel of advisors.
So if you are still thinking of a career change, Nike had the right idea: Just Do It!
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.