In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Lynn Chang about exploring various career paths. During her tenure as a college career coach, Dr. Lynn guided students toward balanced and satisfying career choices. However, career exploration is not exclusive to the youth of pre-paid meal plans; it’s a common phenomenon to all working professionals. From exploring the multi-faceted career playground to prioritizing mind over matter, Dr. Lynn walks us through the process of determining our wants, our talents, and our curiosities which will ultimately aid us in discovering our careers of choice. So let's have a go at the playground of life; perhaps along the way we’ll learn where we can also make a difference!
Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Lynn Chang, PhD
Dr. Lynn Chang is the founder of CAREER ZEN and author of The 10 Day Career Cleanse. With a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, Dr. Lynn infuses yoga and Buddhist spiritual principles into her career guidance. This East-meets-West approach allows her to teach people how to achieve meaningful work, purposeful living, and work/life balance. With a focus on calming the mind and listening to your heart, Dr Lynn believes you already have the answers you seek within you.
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Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our blog “Starting Strong: How to Discover Your Passion in College” by Ananya Dwivedi
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Lorelei: Welcome to HERdacious, a podcast for audacious women. Welcome everyone to HERdacious, the podcast for audacious women looking to make some career moves, and HERdacious is here to help you do so. My name is Lorelei and I am your happy host. So glad that you decided to join us today because we are gonna be talking about career exploration. To join me in this epic conversation, I have the founder of CAREER ZEN, the author of The 10 Day Career Cleanse, known for an East meets West approach to career fulfilment, Dr. Lynn Chang. Hello, how are you doing today?
Dr. Lynn: Fantastic, I'm excited to be here.
Lorelei: And I am so excited to have you here talking to us about career exploration. To get us started, share a little bit about why you are passionate about helping folks explore their career options.
Dr. Lynn: Well, my first job out of grad school as a PhD in Counseling Psychology was a University Career Counselor. So I got to go back to my alma mater, UT Austin, and help students find their path in life, figure out their majors or careers or internships, what they love, what they didn't love. It was blissful. I loved that job, I love helping students figure out what they wanted to do.
Lorelei: Blissful? Working with students?
Dr. Lynn: So much potential! I love college students, I love it. I was there for about 12 years, and the longer I was there, telling people what my job was, they said, you know, other people, grown-ups need this type of help. They need help figuring out what they wanna do. And so I started CAREER ZEN out of request from so many people around me. Figuring out why are they unhappy, why are they not feeling as fulfilled as they know they could be? That's kind of how I got started, and I started hearing about people unhappy at work, and I started doing some research on that, there was a Gallup Poll that shows 15% of workers worldwide are not happy at work, they're not engaged and not using their strengths and talents and I thought, holy smokes, we spend 40 hours a week to 80 hours a week at our jobs, and we need to be in a positive place. More happy, more fulfilled.
Lorelei: More zen.
Dr. Lynn: More zen girl, absolutely. We spend more time at work than with our own families. You can't choose your families, but you can choose your work, so choose wisely, choose a place that's gonna really serve you to stay in a mindset of positivity. You're giving to the world or you are using your natural strengths and talent.
Lorelei: Well, it sounds like we've found an excellent person to help us get our career a little bit more zen. So what would you define career exploration as Lynn?
Dr. Lynn: Good question. Career exploration is going beyond doctor, teacher, lawyer, engineer. It's what we are taught in grade school, you mentioned the same four careers over and over again, and then when you get to college, you're left on your own to figure out. Alright, there's hundreds of majors and minors and 5,000,000 different job titles to choose from, and there's really no guidance. How are you supposed to figure that out? And so for me, career exploration is about being curious, educating yourself on what's out there, what is a good fit for you and what's possible. That curiosity is really important. A few generations ago, career success was more about job security, can you provide for your family, and then once we master that version of career success, the next generation said, I want job security and I want enjoyment, I want both, because we spend so many waking hours at work, and once we master that, now the question is, Can I have job security? And enjoyment and fulfillment. And I say, Yes, this is the message today, you can have all three: Security, enjoyment, and fulfillment. That's why we need to explore, because at school, they don't teach you. And information is power. That's why we need to just put yourself out there to see what's a good fit.
Lorelei: Yes. Alright. Well said, yes. Well, let's just assume that we're in our first career, we're in our second career, maybe we got a family, we got kids, we got a mortgage, all the things, right. Why would the average career woman prioritize career exploration in the middle of another career?
Dr. Lynn: To me, it's a matter of health and well-being. There's a meta-analysis from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and they have evaluated over a million people, and they found a strong correlation between job dissatisfaction and depression, anxiety, burnout and low self-esteem. So for me, that's a perfect storm, right? That is the very corner you don't want to get put into. Not happy at work, not feeling good about yourself, not feeling hopeful that change is possible. So for me, information is power, prevention is the best medicine. Let's get people educated on the world of work, 500,000 different careers, what kinds of careers are a good fit and why which ones are not a good fit. I really wanna empower women to make good choices for themselves because there's a ripple effect. One person impacts everyone in their family, everyone at work, everyone in the community, so it starts with the individual making smart choices for themselves.
Lorelei: Smart, wise, zen choices to their career. I love that. Now, let's just assume we have some folks out there listening who are ready to get started in their journey of career exploration, at the beginning of their current career, in the middle of a current career, where do you advise most people to get started in this process?
Dr. Lynn: Yeah, the formula I like to teach is what plus where. The what means, what do you wanna do? And a lot of people only focus on what's my next move, what am I gonna do next thinking the answer is a job title, but it's a larger question than that. What brings you joy? What brings you peace? What makes you happy? What is meaningful work? When you turn on the news, what is upsetting to you? What kind of change do you wanna see in the world, what are your natural strengths and talents, what have you always been rewarded for, lauded for, noted for. That's the what, that's what you wanna do, the kind of difference you wanna make. The where I think is equally important. Maybe even more important than what you do. Where means the kind of place you work, the company, the organization, the industry, what is the mission of the place, what is the culture of the place, what are the quality of co-workers you're surrounding yourself with? What is the pace, how healthy is the environment? All of that where is really important for looking at the overall well-being of yourself at work. The What and the Where is what I recommend people look at.
Lorelei: I really appreciate that perspective. And I wanna throw just a little monkey wrench into the works here and ask you, what do you suggest for women who maybe don't have the space, they don't have the finances, they don't have the bandwidth to do this massive sort of career exploration, they don't have the ability to go get that extra certification to be in the type of what/where situation that is ideal for them.
Dr. Lynn: That's such a great question. For me, CAREER ZEN is not about making a huge change all at once, that can feel like a really big risky move. But starting today, how can you shift your mindset into one that I'm going to be fulfilled, no matter what I'm gonna be happy, no matter what. When I was at the university, there were some days that were so stressful and I felt that burn out coming into my physical body, and I realized, I wanna do something about this, I wanna continue loving my job, and it was just a matter of little tweaks, so sometimes a career change means a 180 degree difference. Sometimes it's a two-degree tweak, changing your work environment, changing your office set up, prioritizing your task, rearranging your schedule, it can be little tweaks like that. Happiness is a choice that you make every day. And so choosing from that joyful place that you want to feel fulfilled, you want to be happy and make all the differences in the world and the new starts. It's a ripple effect, everything comes from that place of your choice of happiness.
Lorelei: Okay, I'm gonna monkey wrench you here again. A lot of us in the past year or so, many, many, millions of people have been inside of a place of unhappiness, they lost their jobs, they're on unemployment, their businesses went out of business. What are those folks to do?
Dr. Lynn: Great question. I've been reading several articles that maybe they're click bait, but they say pandemic proof your career. And what I like to teach is, yes, pandemic proof your career, but also life-proof your career. Because the goal is not to have one job title that's going to fit you for the rest of your life, but to paint a picture of what serves you, what makes you happy and fulfilled, if you paint a picture, then you should be able to find a pocket of place no matter what.
Lorelei: Well, then I'm gonna make a quick tweak to this program and we're gonna take a sponsor break, we'll be right back.
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Lorelei: And we're back talking with Dr. Lynn Chang on the topic of career exploration. Now, in the first half you gave us the where, what. I wanna kinda move into the how. But first, I'm gonna talk about mindset for a hot second, once someone knows that change is possible, that meaningful work can be our goal in our career journey, and we have started to transition our mindset to prioritizing our own happiness, our own Zen. What happens next?
Dr. Lynn: The juicy part happens next. Yes, that means calming the mind and opening the heart, listening to the wisdom from within you. The mind has a little chatter box, and when we are worried, when we were stressed and scared, that voice gets louder and louder. And so this is why I like to incorporate a little meditation into my work. Loitering and centering to calm the mind, we don't have to silence it, just quiet it a little bit and allow the wisdom from your heart to come out. This might be a good opportunity to guide your listeners on a meditation. This is how I like to think about making important decisions in your life, which includes career.
Lorelei: Oh yes, please.
Dr. Lynn: So for your listeners, if you are in a place where you can put your hands, maybe at a desk, you can place your hands on your desk and put your head down. If you're already at home, maybe just lay down, have shavasana, have dessert. If you are driving, if you're not able to get to this meditation, just hit pause, come back to it when you're able to in a safe way.
Let's get started. Alright, inhale through the nose. Pause at the top, and then sigh it out. Inhale through the nose. Pause at the top and sigh it out. One more inhale through the nose, pause at the top, and sigh it out. You are welcome to close your eyes or lower your gaze. We often hear the term mind, body, spirit, because those are connected to one another, one influences the other, and when it comes to making important decisions in our life such as work and career, I like to use the order of spirit and then body and then mind. What does that mean? Spiritually, why are we here. We are here to help one another, here to make a difference, or lives were here on purpose, to do something meaningful with that foundation of making a difference. Then we can move on to the body, your heart's emotions, your gut intuition, your life was meant to feel good. We are not robots, we are humans, we have emotions for a reason, your life was meant to feel good at the moment. If it does not feel good, that's a good time to reflect on what's going on, what changes do I need to make, what tweaks would be helpful for me. Listening to that intuition, listening to that gut reaction, even if something looks great on paper, but your guts like it's not adding up, something is not right. Listen, listen to your body's messages in a direction that feels good, less resistance, more positivity, and then we employ the mind. Mind is very good at being a calculator, calculating the pros and cons, analyzing, strategizing, planning and researching, that's what the mind is good for. If we start the big question of "What should I do next?" with the mind, the mind freezes up. The mind does not have the bandwidth to answer that question, so we get stuck, then get frozen. And I'm a big proponent of going out in nature, spending a weekend journaling, listening to music, maybe dance, yoga, find that flow in your body, so you remember spiritually, we are here to be of service to one another. Our bodies are meant to feel good, listen to your hearts messages, and then let your mind research and plan some next steps for you. Spirit, body, mind.
Lorelei: Okay, I feel better.
Dr. Lynn: Much more Zen now.
Lorelei: Yeah. Well, in my nice Zen state, I wanna dig a little deeper into the how's. How do we continue this journey of exploration into our career fulfillment?
Dr. Lynn: Exploring means having a mindset of curiosity and openness. If you've been driving past this building in your neighborhood, and then you start asking yourself, I wonder what they do, I wonder what difference they make, I wonder how they help others who they employ, who works there, go into the world outside of your space, and you start wondering? What is a good fit for me? You can go on LinkedIn and just browse and slueth, that's what LinkedIn is really great for. If you're interested in certain industries, companies, roles, look up people and find out who they are, what they're doing. Ask for connection, and start a conversation. Just by having a simple conversation: Wow, I've been really fascinated by your work, what's a typical week like? How did you get started? What advice do you have for me? What are the trends in the next five, 10 years? When you have these simple conversations you get the ball rolling, you create these relationships, and actually many times people find out about job opportunities just from these conversations, and that's one way you could pivot into a new role.
Lorelei: What are some others?
Dr. Lynn: So the first step of exploration really is the information interview, talking to professionals who are doing the work you're interested in, researching possibilities. I think that curiosity is really important. Otherwise, if people wanted to go to school, get a certification, that's another way to pivot into something. I've found that often, it's not necessary to start at the very bottom and work your way up, sometimes that can be a salary concern. This goes to the analogy of a career ladder, which is kind of an old school way of thinking about career advancement and success, the idea that you have one ladder and you climb up or down, you get promoted or demoted, you get raises. So it's very linear, it's very restricted. And these days in career counseling, we like the analogy of a playground more than a career ladder, and the idea is that you can go from one area to another to another based on transferable skills, based on what you've already been doing. You don't have to start from the bottom sometimes.
Lorelei: I love that analogy. The playground?
Dr. Lynn: The playground. So say you start on the slides, you learn how to slide and you make your friends there. That was great. You do that for a while. I'm like, "Oh, look, hopscotch, I wanna try that. Bye slide friends." Go hopscotch with some people. You learn, you build upon the skills of the slides, like, "Okay, this is a new technique, this is a new game, or new people I get to play with and work with and connect with." You can do many different things like building on top of your experiences. I've been to Lowes, I've been to Home Depot, there is no such thing as a degree trashcan. You cannot throw away your education, you can not throw your work experience. Everything is a stepping stone. Everything is cumulative. So think in terms of your whole life, you could just be on this playground, how are you gonna have fun, are you gonna have these connections now, are you gonna make a difference?
Lorelei: What a beautiful vision of how career exploration is so accessible to us.
Dr. Lynn: Yeah, right?
Lorelei: It's really quite charming as well, I really appreciate that analogy. It kinda leads me to my next question. I think this new process, this new career exploration for some folks could feel a little daunting, we might not feel very confident that we're doing it right. How would we know if we're headed in the right direction?
Dr. Lynn: I think when we are in that state of worry, am I doing it right? Am I doing it right? I think we're too much in our heads. I think that's when we need to calm the mind and just trust this process. If you have an opportunity to Google, what does success look like? What you come up with is this really cool graphic. There's two arrows, one is a straight arrow pointing up, and one says, "This is what most people think success looks like." And then you have a squiggly squiggly line with lots of twists and turns, and that's what success actually looks like. The juicy, messy journey of life. Really pertains to career as well. Very few of us are born and know exactly what we're gonna do for the rest of our lives, and do so efficiently and perfectly. It's just a messy journey of being a human. And so we learn from these experiences, and we learn from these experiences, what kinds of roles have I had in the past that I have enjoyed, not enjoyed. A helpful activity would be to have a journal and on your journal, write down every role that you've had, maybe since a teenager, like walking a dog when you're a teenager, and then make a column of everything you liked about that role and everything you didn't like about that role. And then you start seeing, wow, looking vertically, everything that I like, you're basically describing your dream job. This is what would make you so happy and fulfilled, and then everything on the right hand of what you didn't like. That's what you need to avoid in the future. Those are lessons learned. It's not a good fit. Not great for you to be doing those things. So yeah, going back to reflection time, you actually have so much wisdom and knowledge inside of you, trust yourself, trust this process naturally unfolds by understanding who you are at your core. What motivates you, what interests you, and then opening yourself up to what your heart is telling you. Those connections that you make with people, most people get hired because of their relationships. They trust you're gonna learn it on the job, it's not about a resume with the perfect keywords and all the right degrees and experiences, it's rarely about that, but more about knowing who you are, what you're excited about, where you align with your values, you wanna be part of the mission that does X, Y, and Z. Let me give you an example.
Dr. Lynn: I was working with a school teacher who loves students, loves teaching kids, working with information, but she did not like the bureaucracy of the school system. She tried many different school districts and just was not a good fit. So what we did was we took a step back and we thought like, what's important to you? What do you actually like to do? What would be meaningful work? And she came up with a beautiful vision statement. This vision statement is going to serve her for the coming future, so I'll read it to you. Her vision statement is, "my dream job is to use my creativity to present information I've researched in order to educate the public and better serve them."
Lorelei: Oh, nice. That's good, that's real good.
Dr. Lynn: It is specific to her, but it's not tied to just one job title or just one industry, and so this is how you pandemic proof, how you life-proof your career. Creating a vision for yourself. What are you all about, what you like to do, what you stand for, once you have that vision and trust yourself, trust the process, put it out there and the universe will respond to you.
Lorelei: Taking it back to the process one more time. You mentioned listening to things that you like and you didn't like about your jobs in these columns, so if we're looking at column and those are the things that we really like, what if that column is just a little too nebulous for some of us to be able to pinpoint, "Oh, I could have a job or a career in... Blah, blah, blah." What do we do then?
Dr. Lynn: So this is where the research comes in. There's 500,000 different job titles, and different companies will call the same thing different things. Or one job title could mean many different things depending on the industry. And so for me, it's not about the job title, but when you talk to different professionals, you talk to different companies and you present them with this vision statement, you describe, this is what I really enjoy doing. This is what I've done in the past, this is what I wanna do in the future. What does that look like in your neck of the woods, what team would I be part of? What does that sound like in your world? So that's the research part.
Lorelei: Thank you for that. Lastly, you have mentioned a number of really nice resources that have informed you in your journey to educate others, give us some of the resources that you would recommend to those of us who are looking to start a little bit of career exploration of our own.
Dr. Lynn: Okay, I have a favorite book by Barbara Sher, and the book is called "I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was." Probably the world's best book title. The other thing I would recommend, and this is for people who feel like their interests are all over the board, and they're having trouble just choosing one career path, would be a TED talk on multi-potentiallites. The idea that we are multifaceted people with many curiosities and many interests and many skills and talents, so how do you create a world in which all of those curiosities are satisfied so you don't have to pigeon-hole yourself into one career. A really helpful objective career website is mynextmove.org. And it has a lot of resources. If you know the kind of industry you wanna be a part of, you can explore careers there, if you have just some keywords, like I wanna help people, you can put your keywords into that. They even have an interest inventory, so you can start learning about possibilities it's a really great resource to get some good objective data to examples of job titles related job titles, descriptions, salary, skills, things like that.
Lorelei: Okay, that sounds really neat. Thanks for the share.
Dr. Lynn: I have two more. Going back to the formula of what plus where. The first three resources were helping you identify what you wanna do, and these next two resources will help you with, where do you wanna work? So if you look at the 16 Career Clusters, basically the 16 industries that are out there, thinking about where do you feel like you can make a difference, where do you feel an alignment with their mission in the world? And then a website like topworkplaces.com, where they do anonymous surveys to find out which employees are happiest in their companies. Oftentimes, the measurements are based on a positive work environment, opportunities for growth, giving back to the community, work-life balance, flexible schedule.
Lorelei: Thank you for that. No to wrap up our episode, we're gonna do as we always do, and share a femme fact. Today's femme fact is going to be on somebody who definitely embraced her career and took that next level jump. While we may have pushed the pause button on many aspects of our lives. The world of sports generally stops for no one and nothing, and covid has been no exception. Soccer, aka football, has continued to unite fans around the world despite massive corruption cases and various scandals that have rocked the sport in the past two decades. Now, while many of you might think of gold winning American soccer star player Megan Rapinoe as the face of women's professional soccer due to her incredible talent and leadership and advocacy, we'd like to take a quick look back in history to one of the first faces of women's soccer. Lily Parr was born on April 26, 1905 in St. Helens UK. She was the fourth of seven children born to her parents George and Sarah Parr. Her elder brothers' love for sports was what eventually peaks Lily's interest in competing alongside her male counterparts in the sports arena, literally eventually ended up playing for one of the best women's soccer teams to date, the Dick Kerr Ladies Football Club, and I know that name, Dick Kerr Ladies Football Club. It was...
Let's backtrack a bit more to give a little bit of history on this situation. Dick Kerr and Company was a tramcar manufacturer, that was converted into a munitions factory in the UK during World War II. The company started recruiting English women to help produce ammunitions for the war effort in 1914. Now, it may come as no surprise that women playing sports was something generally discouraged during this period in English society, however, given the challenging times of World War I, Dick Kerr and Company figured that encouraging women to play an organized team sport might increase morale and maybe even improve labor productivity for their company. There's that bottom line kicking in. Now, this eventually led to the birth of women's professional soccer teams. In 1917, they were an immediate hit, regularly drawing crowds of tens of thousands of people, and Lily, who later worked for Dick Kerr and Company started playing for their team in 1920. Quick side note, in modern times, we've come to know women's professional soccer to follow a system wherein women's teams exclusively play other women's teams, but when women's soccer first originated in the UK, the war generally eclipsed most gender issues at the time, and all female teams would regularly be pitted against all male teams. So Lily Parr was notorious for the strength of her kicks, so much so that it has said she once broke a man's arm with the power of a shot after he taunted her that she wouldn't be able to make the goal. To further visualize Lily's power, a teammate of hers once said she had a kick like a mule, "She was the only person I knew who could lift a dead ball, [those old heavy leather balls] from the left wing over to me on the right and nearly knock me out with the force of the shot." Dick Kerr Ladies Football Club eventually used Lily's powerful left kick as a marketing tool in their programs to draw in more crowds.
For instance, a 1923 ad described Lily as big, fast and powerful, is tricky to take corner kicks, stronger than most men, scores goals from extraordinary angles with a left foot cross drive, which nearly breaks their net. Sounds very riveting. By the end of her professional career where she played both nationally and internationally, Lily was believed to have made more than 980 goals in her 32-year pro football career. It makes my legs hurt just thinking about it. Now, after she retired from sports, she trained as a nurse and worked in the mental health sector until her second retirement. Lily died of cancer in 1978, and she was 73. In her personal life, Parr had been an LGBT rights advocate and became an icon in the community for being unapologetic about her sexuality, happily living an openly gay lifestyle with her partner Mary. The annual Lily Parr exhibition trophy was established during LGBT history month back in 2007, which preceded another marvelous accomplishment of Parr's. She became the only woman to be made an inaugural inductee into the English football Hall of Fame back in 2002. Lynn, what did you take away from the story?
Dr. Lynn: Oh wow. Lily is a bad ass. Alright, so many takeaways. One of the big takeaways for me was that necessity is a mother of all invention, that we need to have some stress, strain and limitations placed on us sometimes in order for the creation of something new. That women's sports came out of WWI, in many ways, just speaks to how the process works. The creativity, the passion, utilizing your strengths and talents. I love that story. Thank you.
Lorelei: Thank you. And the biggest takeaway for me is that we all have an opportunity to break barriers and deliver a positive impact on society somewhere, somehow. We just gotta take the shot. Now, Lynn, I wanna thank you for your creativity and your passion today and joining us in this wonderful conversation around career exploration. I think you've given us a lot to think about, and hopefully we can all feel a little more confident in taking that next career shot.
Dr. Lynn: Oh, my pleasure. What an honor. Thank you, Lorelei.
Lorelei: The pleasure was all mine, Lynn. Now, if you liked our show, please subscribe and share with a friend, maybe even a soccer fan or football fan. You never know what woman is out there looking for a little bit of career support and HERdacious is there to provide that support to you. You can find us on all the social channels @HERDACITY, and you can send us an email if you wanna share your thoughts or your interests or the things in your career exploration journey. That email is [email protected] All of the amazing resources that Lynn mentioned will be linked in our show notes, as well as my long email address. My name is Lorelei, and this was HERdacious. Until next time, get out there and take the shot.