Webinar presenter Dr. Tamara Lyn answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Career Conversation: Create a Career Path that Aligns with Your Values. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: If there is a saying out there that you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, how can a person remain positive if they work in a negative work environment?
Tamara Lyn: That’s a wonderful question. That’s why I attempted to refer to both our work and personal lives as I had this conversation with you today. Sometimes we expect too much of our workplace. Sometimes we need to supplement, using our personal relationships, and our lives outside of work, to try to either balance the negativity that we’re experiencing at work or to introduce some of the experiences that we’re missing in our work environment. So, if you remember that Marcus Aurelius quote, it was that idea that there is drama and conflict and negativity around us that can be hard to avoid. In fact, he thought it was inevitable. But, we can control the impact that it has on us, and choose to take a more positive, hopeful stance. Many years ago, I had a Captain tell me that when he was under stress and he was about to lose his cool, he imagined spraying himself with a can of non-stick spray, the non-stick cooking spray that we use in our cooking all the time. He imagined spraying himself down so that things would just slide off, and I’ve held on to that image all these years because I think it is such a great tool or mind trick that we can play in order to try to protect ourselves from some of that negativity. So, make sure that those five people that you surround yourself with include people who are more positive.
Audience Question: Is it realistic to pursue a desired core value, like joy, which has always eluded me?
Tamara Lyn: I would say that not only is it realistic, but I think that it is the thing that distinguishes humans from any other species. We have the capacity to pursue and create joy, and it is the thing that we can use to help us get through the difficult times. So, I hear a little bit of discouragement in the question, and I really encourage the person who asked the question to perhaps expand their idea of what might bring joy. Sometimes we have very big ideas about what would make us happy, or what we would need in our lives to feel successful or fulfilled, and we miss small things around us that can create that fulfillment. So, I would encourage you to reflect on whether there are small steps that you could take to find that joy, small things that you can do to make your life more pleasant or comfortable or rewarding, and not pressure yourself to make big changes all at once.
Audience Question: How do we have a conversation with our boss or a peer group when some of them might see this as a woo-woo or hippy dippy trippy, a soft topic in a very male-dominated-go-get-her agency culture?
Tamara Lyn: As a psychologist in correctional settings, I get the concern about appearing to be hippy-dippy or woo-woo in that setting. What I have found helpful for me is to put myself in the shoes of the person who may be the skeptic and try to think about how I can connect with that skeptic in a way that they will relate to. I don’t want to bring my psychology jargon to someone who is skeptical about psychology. I want them to forget that I’m a psychologist, right? So, put yourself in the shoes of the other person and try to think of the vocabulary, the interests, and the issues that resonate with them. But then translate these ideas into language and ideas that are accessible to them.
Audience Question: My core values center around family, faith, and travel. How do I align these with the reality that I still need a steady income from a law enforcement career?
Tamara Lyn: Yes, my goodness. I bet if you were to reflect a little bit longer, you would find ways to perhaps find other people in your work environment who share those values and build up that catch team using like-minded co-workers. That might be a way to bring some of those interests and core values into the work setting if you can find other people who share them. That way, you won’t have to feel that there is a bright line between faith, family, travel, and your work. Find ways to connect with like-minded people at work around those things. One other opportunity is that in my own work as a psychologist, I have found opportunities to travel to other places and visit clinics and hospitals, and I work with mental health organizations in other countries. It’s been a great way to combine my interests in travel and my interest in helping as a mental health professional. So those are my two suggestions, find like-minded people at work and find creative opportunities to take your professional skills into other arenas. I’ve certainly seen people in my work in corrections take their faith and apply it in ministry and outreach around re-entry and support for people who are transitioning into their communities. So, there could be creative opportunities to combine those things.
Audience Question: Does the workplace have to enhance all of your personal core values? Or is it enough that work is neutral – it doesn’t hurt your values?
Tamara Lyn: That gets at that work-to-live or live-to-work question that I posed early on. The reason I would encourage you to find some way to create points of alignment is that you spend a great deal of your day at work, and you’re basically asking yourself to take half or more than half of your waking hours and exist in a neutral state when what we really want to do as human beings is to thrive and be fulfilled. So, I would encourage you to find small points of alignment and not sacrifice half of your waking hours to an environment or a role that doesn’t connect with your values in some way.
Audience Question: They’re wondering whether or not you provide remote services consulting.
Tamara Lyn: I do. That’s one wonderful thing about the changes in the world recently. There’s so much that can be done remotely. If you go to www.highreadycoaching.com, you can learn more about my work as a coach and as a consultant. And you can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’m happy to talk with anyone about these ideas. I just love exploring them with people.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Career Conversation: Create a Career Path that Aligns with Your Values.