This is part two of the interview with confidence expert Anna Lundberg.
You can read part one here.
“I’m never going to be the person who frolics naked in a field with incense but I equally no longer fit into the PowerPoint- and meeting-obsessed, suited and booted, corporate army” – Anna Lundberg
What’s been the scariest thing you’ve done and how did you manage the fear?
The scariest thing was quitting my job three years ago – and it also turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Fear and excitement tend to come together, unfortunately!
I managed the fear by taking it one step at a time. Although I’d wanted to leave my job for many years, I didn’t do so right away and instead asked for a three-month sabbatical. At the time this seemed like a huge and scary decision but once I was there, travelling across South America by myself, this seemed pretty minor as I came across people who had been fired or left their jobs to travel for months or years on end.
Halfway through the trip my boss contacted me about possible next assignments and I was faced with a decision point. I spoke to everyone I could, probably looking to hear what I wanted to hear. Deep down I knew what I wanted to do but I had never before followed my heart, my intuition, against the incredibly rational and sensible ‘good girl’ mindset that was so engrained in my being (and reinforced by my parents and other well-meaning people). After much soul searching and a fair bit of crying I finally got up the courage to make the call and officially resign. It was actually easier to do so from a distance, and I knew that once I got back to a cushy job in a familiar environment then I would easily get sucked back into my comfort zone.
What’s your biggest challenge right now both professionally and personally?
The freedom that I so desired, and still value so much, is also my biggest challenge. I’m constantly faced with decisions on how to spend my time, which project to focus on, where to travel to… First world problems, I know, and I try not to get stressed about it given that it’s really a good problem to have, to face so many opportunities! I am trying, though, to incorporate a bit more structure so that I’m not flying completely free and instead I come down to land from time to time.
I’m also working on finding my space within the coaching and consulting world. I think I’m still caught halfway between the old corporate world of discipline, leadership and rational thinking and a new world that still feels a bit fluffy and bohemian to me! I’m never going to be the person who frolics naked in a field with incense but I equally no longer fit into the PowerPoint- and meeting-obsessed, suited and booted, corporate army. So I’ll continue to find my way and carve a little niche for myself somewhere in between the two!
What does success mean to you?
This is an interesting one! Part of the process of quitting my job and redefining my work and life has been a question of redefining what success means to me. It’s easy to find yourself on that conveyer belt of expectations, going from school to university and university to a good job; from dating to engagement to marriage to children; from renting a flat to buying a house; and so on. These may be the right choices and they may not, but the point is that this is what they are: CHOICES. So rather than continuing on auto-pilot I’m now much more aware of the decisions that I’m making, I’m questioning things that I’ve always taken for granted, and I’m making what some would say are more unconventional choices.
Fundamentally, success for me means living my most fulfilled life – making the most of the time that I have, prioritising what really matters, and trying to leave the world in a slightly better place than before I arrived (or at least no worse off!). Within that definition there may be more specific goals such as writing a book, earning enough money to be able to live my desired lifestyle, travelling to new countries every year… but it’s no longer a question of having that prestigious job title, getting the biggest salary increase, or getting a top rating against my colleagues. And it’s definitely not about having a snazzy car or designer handbag (though I do still like a nice handbag from time to time!).
How do you handle rejection?
Not very well, I’m afraid! I can be very self-critical and, like many of us, I tend to focus on the one piece of criticism rather than the five pieces of praise. I’m getting better, though, at believing in myself and what I’m doing, and not being as vulnerable to other people’s opinions.
Last year I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and one of the agreements that stuck with me was: “Don’t take anything personally.” The message is not only to not take the bad stuff personally, but also to not take the good stuff personally. That is, I may be doing a great job, but that is true regardless of whether you tell me I am or not; my self-worth shouldn’t be dependent on what other people say, whether up or down. It’s not easy, but as I said I’m working on it!
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
I don’t think I’ve made any big mistakes. Unfortunately! Partly because I’ve just not been a huge risk taker and I’ve always avoided failure wherever possible, and partly because I’ve learned to accept my decisions in the past and view them as part of my journey. The fact that I haven’t risked failure, though, is something I’m working on, and especially redefining what failure means in my own terms.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to change career or start a business?
I’d always start with getting really clear on what it is that you want. What’s most important in your life, what do you love doing, what are you really good at, what does ‘success’ look like for you? Once you have that picture of what you want, then you can begin to understand what’s stopping you so that you can address and ultimately overcome those obstacles. How can you reduce the fear that you’re feeling and get more comfortable with your choices? Where can you get the support you need? Finding your ‘tribe’ can be a huge enabler in reassuring you when you’re feeling alone, encouraging you when you’re doubting yourself, and inspiring you to keep going as you see that others have achieved similar changes or transitions.
What book are you currently reading?
I’ve always got several books on the go, on Kindle, Audible, and paperback! Currently I’m reading Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, Born For This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do (I read everything on this topic that I can get my hands on), as well as Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever (I don’t really have a home to tidy at the moment but I am always striving to de-clutter and I love the idea of only keeping things that are either very functional or very meaningful). I’m also really enjoying Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.
What books/You Tube videos would you recommend?
I have a few favourite books, which I always recommend, in the area of re-designing your life and career:
The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to Do What You Love and Get Paid for it by John Williams
And What Do You Do? 10 steps to creating a portfolio career by Barrie Hopson and Katie Ledger
The Escape Manifesto: Quit Your Corporate Job. Do Something Different! by Escape the City
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin
What’s next for you?
Well, part of the charm of this kind of lifestyle is that I just don’t know what’s next! I don’t like to plan too far ahead so that I can jump on opportunities as they appear.
But having said that, I actually do know a few things:
Having spent the last year launching or re-staging each of my businesses, these are now all set up and the next phase is going to be consolidating and growing them to provide a more substantial and sustainable income.
Rather than flitting about the world, with lots of short trips and temporary stays, I would like to make sure that I spend at least three months in each place so that I have a bit more stability and time for face-to-face relationships.
And I’m going to be focusing on writing and publishing a book that captures my own career transition as well as several years’ worth of interviews and coaching sessions to inspire and encourage others to confront their fear and take that ‘one step outside’!
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> Share your thoughts about this interview – what have you learned or discovered about yourself? What’s your comfort zone? How can you use the information Anna shared in this interview to take that one step outside and start living the life you deserve?