This is part one of a two part interview with Anna Lundberg.
“The challenge with forging your own path…is a question of being open to new ideas while staying true to who you are and what’s important to you – Anna Lundberg”
Three years ago, Anna Lundberg left the ‘security’ of her full-time job – a good job, in a good company, with a good salary – to work independently, pursue her passions, and make sure she didn’t have any regrets when “I’m sitting in that rocking chair in the retirement home in years to come.”
Today, Anna is designing a life that allows her to live according to her most important values: freedom, personal growth, development, and authenticity.
She has a very successful blog and coaches, trains and mentors people to overcome fears and limiting beliefs so they become their best version.
When you join her mailing list you will gain access to One Step Outside– a small, but supportive Facebook group where members share their experiences of stepping out of their comfort zones.
In her own words Anna Lundberg is “not here to persuade you to follow the same path as me but I am here to support you in finding and following your own unique path, whatever that may be”
Who is Anna Lundberg?
Uh-oh, I never know how to answer that question! I tend to resort to labels, whether it’s nationality – I was born to Swedish parents and grew up in England – or work – these days I’m a personal coach and business consultant. I feel like neither of those captures who I am, but I suppose it’s a start!
In more general terms, I’m someone who values freedom and independence, who likes the open sky and the ocean and loves to try new things. I’m hard working and self-motivated, always trying to get better at whatever I’m doing. And I’m close to my family.
Having followed what I call the ‘good girl’ path for most of my life, I’m currently discovering a different, more purposeful, way, exploring the world and the possibilities it has to offer…
What’s your favorite thing in the world right now?
Rooftop bars. Paddle boarding. My niece and nephew.
You love to travel? Have you met anyone famous or infamous on your journeys?
I don’t think I have met anyone really famous on my travels…
At the beginning, travel for me was a kind of escape, from all the work and stress back home. It’s also about seeing as much as I can of this beautiful world that we live in!
Like all of life, though, travel for me is really about the little moments: the laughter and the intimate conversations you share with fellow travelers whom you may never see again; the delicious meal at the little restaurant that someone takes you to and that you never would have found by yourself; the stranger on the street who gives you his umbrella and then continues on in the rain; the new ideas and insights that come to you that will change the way you look at things when you get back home.
What was the trigger that made you say: “hey, I have more to offer than this. I’m going to create my own path.”
As is often the case, it wasn’t so much one trigger as a slow-burning feeling and a number of reminders along the way. The story I tell is that I ended up in my career by accident – I had studied international relations and development economics and yet somehow accepted a job marketing luxury perfumes – and so there was always a disconnect between what I was doing and what I thought I wanted to do. I was privileged to have a well-paying job where I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with my friends and colleagues; but when your heart isn’t in it there’s always going to come a point when you have to say: enough is enough. The challenge was that, after seven years of saying to myself (and sometimes to other people too) that I wanted to be elsewhere and yet not doing anything about it, I no longer believed I could do it.
What I also didn’t realize at the time was that quitting my job was just the first of many big decisions – it’s not just a case of making that one decision to quit, and then living out your life happily ever after. For me at least, it’s been a series of decisions since then, each time reasserting my choice, evolving my vision, and defending myself against other people’s doubts (as well as my own). A couple of things have helped me to do this: first, each decision that I’ve made and has turned out amazingly well has given me the confidence to keep making more of those decisions; and, second, the more I interact with other people like me, and the more I see how others have been successful, the more I believe that I can do it too.
Who is/has been your biggest influence?
The challenge with forging your own path is that there’s no role model that you can copy, no blueprint that you can follow. Instead, there are different influences along the way, to be found in random conversations with strangers, a conference talk here, a webinar there. It’s a question of being open to new ideas while staying true to who you are and what’s important to you.
Why is encouraging people to overcome fear/step out of their comfort zone important to you?
I feel a bit like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes, I want to shout out: “He’s naked!!” Or, rather, I want to shout: “Life is short, stop limiting yourself, you are more capable than you realize and even if you fail, so what?! Just do it!!” Most of the time the only thing that is stopping us from achieving what we want is ourselves; it’s our fear of failure, of looking foolish, and instead of confronting this we prefer to stay within the comfortable status quo, settling for so much less than what is possible. I want people to dream big, and to turn that dream into a reality!
Moving away from the ‘easy’ path, from the path you’re ‘supposed’ to follow, will inevitably mean moving out of your comfort zone. In my own life experience and that of working with clients, I’ve found that personal growth and development comes when you push the boundaries of what you feel is comfortable and challenge yourself to try new things, take calculated risks, and keep exploring and experimenting so that you ultimately live your most fulfilled life. And it can all start with one little step, one step outside of what you feel is comfortable, which then gives you the confidence and momentum to take another step, and another, and before you know it your world has completely transformed!
What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
I try not to think that way, given that I can’t change the past. If I allow myself to go back and change things in my mind: I would have chosen a different degree that more matched my interests (in the UK at least your studies are more about showing an employer that you can manage your thinking and your time than demonstrating any functional knowledge); I would have chosen my first job more carefully (this seemingly small and temporary decision tends to define the whole direction of your career, and I don’t think you realise this at the time); and I would have been more open to dating and relationships even when I knew that it wasn’t going to be long term (I could have had some fun at least in the short term!).
What are three life events you recall that have had the biggest influence on your life?
The first story that my mum has often related to me took place at play school in the UK. I was three years old, and my parents had been invited to our end-of-year ceremony. When my name was called, I sprang joyfully out of my seat and skipped towards the teacher. “Anna! Go back and walk properly!” she said, and my face fell as I returned to my chair. I feel like that incident is indicative of the pressures and restrictions of the education system, in particular in the UK, through which I lost a lot of my natural confidence and joy.
The second has to be quitting my job three years ago, an act that has opened up so many unimaginable possibilities. These last few years have been incredibly rich and rewarding and I will treasure this time whatever happens in the future.
And finally I’d say the birth of my niece and nephew. There’s been an empty hole in our family, I feel, since my grandparents died, but with the birth of this new generation we now have a new reason to come together. I never knew you could love someone as much as I love them, and they’re not even my own children! Seeing my sister’s family I also can’t help but question my own choices and lifestyle, as our very different lives are put into sharp contrast.
Enjoyed Part One? Read part two here
What are your thoughts so far about this interview? Share them in the comments section.
Swing on over to Anna’s blog for awesome, no-nonsense tips and advice on becoming your best version!