When I began my career, what I did was part of my identity, my self-worth. My father was a successful advertising executive—Mad Men in real life. I wanted that same thing. It appeared glamorous and smart. An adult playground where the wittier and more in touch with your inner child you were, the more successful you'd be.
I landed a job working for a corporation that had its own in-house advertising group. I made friends with several co-workers around my age and we bonded over coffee and kolaches. The executives referred to us as “the brain trust." Those were heady and happy times, when accepting a paycheck for all the fun I was having seemed like stealing.
Then, life happened. Other opportunities arose and I jumped at them, eager for adventure and success. As I grabbed each ring, I found myself less and less satisfied, and further and further from not only what I loved doing, but from what my strengths were. Suddenly, I was decades into my professional life and the landscape around me was completely unfamiliar. I had gone from happy, creative child-genius doing what came easily and naturally, to a middle-aged woman with permanent scowl lines that I blamed on too much squinting at computer screens, instead of the true cause: utter confusion and devastation. I now spent my workday in a thankless role that no one understood or appreciated. Including myself.
Time For The Big Question
The signs that you're not as happy with your career trajectory as you keep telling yourself include things like finding it hard to fall asleep – or wake up, headaches, muscle aches and pains, or feeling mentally and physically exhausted. You also may find you're not performing up to your usually high standards. Your inner voice is telling you something, so listen. Ask yourself, “Am I headed in the right direction?" If you're experiencing the symptoms above, the answer is NO.
I realized one day that I was unhappier more of the time than I was happy. I looked down the road at the next 15 years doing what I was doing and knew it simply wasn't sustainable. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to how I got where I was, but one thing was clear: I needed to pay a lot of attention to where I went next. I reached out for guidance from a former employer—a woman who had successfully launched her own advertising agency some 30 years ago, and whom I had worked for early in my career.
She asked me simply, “What do you want to be doing, if you could write your own job description?" I thought about it for about 10 seconds and responded with my preferences and strengths. As it turned out, I was just what she and the other co-founders of PrimeWomen.com were seeking, and they were what I needed.
That sort of astral alignment, by the way, is how you know the road you need to take is the one directly under your feet.
Play To Your Strengths
Every one of us has our own genius—a talent, gift or passion. Remember what that is? If you're not sure, there are plenty of ways to find out. One, ask your friends and family. They know you better than anyone and have insight you may be overlooking. What did you love doing as a child? What do you like doing in your free time? What could you do every day without getting paid? What hobby or passion do you have that you couldn't live without? The job you seek may not be exactly that one thing, but it will likely incorporate that skill or strength.
Think about how you like to work. When are you most productive? Do you like working independently? Collaborating? Do you prefer a planned work day, or rolling with the punches as they come?
If you want someone to walk you through some of these questions, meet with a career coach. It only makes sense to invest in yourself during this process. After all, whatever job you choose, you'll be spending a large portion of your life doing it.
Watch For Signs
Have you ever noticed when considering a change, the universe sends you little messages to let you know which way to go? Sometimes the signs are hard to read – or maybe you're especially good at focusing on the road ahead and not noticing the signs flying past as you rocket forward, pedal to the metal. Slow down a bit and put your mind in 'receive" mode. Changing jobs can be a frightening prospect. “The devil you know" versus the one you don't. What if you find your new situation worse than the one you're currently in? What if you don't do well? What if it's different than you expected?
From planning weddings and running restaurants to raising kids and doling out wedding-planning wisdom with her radio show “The Event Jeannie," Uyanik has proven herself to be an inimitable woman with a work ethic that should be emulated. If you have a wedding to plan, who you gonna call? C&G Weddings!
While all valid concerns, if you do your homework before you accept a new position, you'll limit that risk. But you need to pay attention to the signs as you move along this path. If you keep hitting roadblocks, it could be the universe telling you to choose another direction. The more smoothly the process goes, the more confidence you can feel in each step you take.
Now, if you are wondering if you've missed any signs from the universe, the fact that you stopped to read this article may be one. What are you going to do about it?
It seemed like everything happened overnight because, well… it did.
One moment, my team and I were business as usual, running a multi-million-dollar edible cookie dough company I built from scratch in my at-home kitchen five years ago and the next we were sitting in an emergency management team meeting asking ourselves, "What do we do now?" Things had escalated in New York, and we were all called to do our part in "flattening the curve" and "slowing the spread."
The governor had declared that all restaurants immediately close to the public. All non-essential businesses were also closed, and 8.7 million New Yorkers were quarantined to their tiny apartments for the foreseeable future. Things like "social distancing" and "quarantine" were our new 2020 vernacular — and reality.
What did that mean for us? Our main revenue source was the retail part of the business. Sure, we offered delivery and take-out, but that was such a small portion of our sales. I had built a retail experience where people from near and far came to eat edible cookie dough exactly how they craved it. We had two stores, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, which employed over 55 people. We have two production facilities; an online business shipping cookie dough nationwide; a wholesale arm that supplies stores, restaurants, and other retail establishments with treats; and a catering vertical for customizable treats for celebrations of all sizes. And while business and sales were nearly at a complete halt, we still had bills. We had payroll to pay, vendors we owed, services we were contractually obligated to continue, rent, utilities, insurance, and none of that was stopping.
How were we going to do this? And for how long will this go on? No one knew.
As an entrepreneur, this certainly wasn't my first-time facing challenges. But this was unprecedented. Unimaginable. Unbelievable. Certainly unplanned. This control-freak type-A gal was unraveling. I had to make decisions quickly. What was best for my team? For my business? For the safety of my staff? For the city? For my family and unborn baby (oh, yeah, throw being 28 weeks pregnant and all those fun hormones in there, it's real interesting!). Everything was spiraling out of control.
I decided to take the advice I had given to many people over the years — focus on the things you can control. There's no point worrying about all the things you have no control over. If you focus there, you'll just continue spiraling into a deeper, darker hole. Let it go. Once you shift your perspective, you can move forward. It's not going to be easy; the challenges still exist. But you can control certain things, so focus your energy and attention on those.
So that's what I did. I chose, for the safety of staff and customers, to close the retail portion completely — it wasn't worth the take-out and delivery volume to staff the store, open ourselves up to more germs and human contact than absolutely necessary.
I went back to our mission and the reason I started the business in the first place — to spread joy. How could we continue to bring happiness to people during this uncertain time? That's our purpose. With millions of people across the globe stuck inside, working from home, quarantined with their families, how can we reach them since they can't come to us? So I thought back to how and why we got started.
Baking, for me, has always been a type of therapy. I could get lost in the mixing bowl and forget about everything else for a moment in time. Sure, I have a huge sweet tooth, but it's about the process. It's about taking all of these different ingredients and mixing them together to create something magically sweet and special. It's about creating and being creative with the simple things. It's about allowing people to indulge in something that brings them joy — a lick from the spatula or a big batch of cookies.
It's about joy in the moment and sharing that joy with others. So my focus is back on that, and it feels good.
We could still ship nationwide, straight to people's doorstep. So we are making it easier and less expensive to send the ultimate comfort food (edible cookie dough) by introducing a reduced shipping rate, and deals on some of our best-selling packages.
In a way for us, it feels like we are going back in time… back to our roots. When I first started the business, we were only shipping nationwide. There were no stores, no big team, no wholesale. It was just me, a small crew juggling it all, and we made it work then. And we'll make it work again. We have to leverage our online business and hope it floats us through this time.
We are focusing our digital content strategy on sharing recipes, activities, and at-home treats with our engaged, amazing social following so they bake with their families and stay busy at-home. We started live baking tutorials where our fans can bake-along with me and I can share all the tips and tricks I've learned over the years with them.
I've leveraged the cookbook I published last year, Hello, Cookie Dough: 110 Doughlicious Confections to Eat, Bake & Share, to come up with fun content and additional things to do at home. We started shipping it and our at-home baking mixes for free to encourage people to get busy in their kitchens!
And as a business, we will continue to connect with our community to bring them joy and focus on what we can control, including our attitude and outlook first.
During times of uncertainty, which this certainly is, you should do the same. Identify the things you can control and focus your time and energy on those things. Distract yourself with the positive. Force yourself to stop asking and worrying about all the what-ifs. Do what you can for the moment and then the next moment. Make a list, and take it day-by-day.
It's going to be okay. You will be okay. We will all be okay.