I’m an emotional eater. When I’m sad or lonely, which lately seems quite often, I head for the pantry. It’s an awful habit but obviously, I’m aware of it. As a certified nutritionist, it’s one of those things I rarely advertise. You know—bad for business and all. That’s one of the reasons that nutrition isn’t my business. When it was, I always felt like a fraud forking out advice that I could hardly follow myself. Not that I’m a horrible eater or anything. But I have my bad habits, like everyone.
When I really examine my values, I note that above all else, I want to be authentic. I want to walk the walk, so to speak, in both my personal and professional life. I refuse to ask someone to do something I’m not willing and able to do myself. This is why nutrition wasn’t for me.
Of course now, as a career strategist, I often have to take a good hard look at my own career to make sure I’m living my values and walking the walk. I have to sit down, take inventory and, sometimes, I have to conduct a little one-on-one coaching session with myself. And let me tell you: It’s not always an easy conversation.
I’m not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I make mistakes every single day, some bigger than others. I make emotional decisions, I let stress get the best of me, and I fail to properly manage my time. I do all the things I tell others not to do.
But here’s the key: I recognize when I do these things. I don’t ignore my missteps; I don’t try to justify my actions. I confront myself openly and without judgment. I take notes and try different strategies to overcome my challenges.
And then, I share what I’ve learned with the world.
Whenever I get down on myself and start to feel like I’m a hypocrite, dishing out advice when I’m no “Perfect Career Poster Child,” I have to remember that no one is perfect, that I don’t claim to be, and that I’m doing what I can to help myself while helping others.
They say some people teach to learn. I can certainly identify with this sentiment. The more I teach others how to create nourishing careers, the more I learn about my own career needs and goals.
It can be hard to take your own medicine, to look yourself in the eye and see what’s really there, to treat yourself as you would treat a friend asking for advice—with compassion and honesty and best intentions. So often we see ourselves as something we’re not. And so often, we want others to see something different as well. We hide from the truth because it isn’t always pretty; it’s much easier to create a fantasy and hide behind it or simply keep our struggles private. But what good does that do anyone?
The truth about me is the same as the truth about you: We are all imperfect in our own perfect way. We all have something to share. We all make mistakes and learn from them. I love talking to people about their career goals. My career has always been a very important part of my life. I’ve seen hard times and I’ve experienced some amazing good fortune, but ultimately, my career is the gauge with which I measure my life’s success. It’s not the same for everyone. And it might not always be that way for me. Maybe one day I’ll have children and live on a farm and take up knitting. Maybe one day, I’ll introduce myself without talking about what I do for a living in the first ten minutes. It seems unlikely, but if it happens, I’ll be proud of it. I won’t feel like a failure or a hypocrite or that I’ve wasted my precious time and energy. Every day I spend helping others, I help myself.
When I’m honest with myself, I know I left the field of nutrition because I was afraid to confront my own imperfections. I’m now much more willing to do this. I’m not sure what has changed. Perhaps I’ve stopped judging myself so harshly. Or maybe I’ve just experienced enough to know now that everyone feels like a hypocrite sometimes. Parents give their children rules that they themselves have a hard time following, because they know it’s the right thing to do. They want to give their kids the best tools for success, even if, as parents, they haven’t yet mastered those tools.
I guess my point can be boiled down to this: Let’s be good to ourselves and one another. Let’s recognize that we’re all striving to improve. No one has it easy. No one has it all figured out. But we have one another. And we’re doing just fine.