Anna took a brave leap out of a career in software and product development to pursue the work most meaningful for her. She realised that, despite having a good job title and the lifestyle she thought she wanted, she still felt unsatisfied and this wasn’t a feeling that was going to go away if she kept on her current trajectory. This understanding led her on a pathway of learning and self-discovery in order to find fulfilling work.
Learn more about how Anna made this transition and her valuable realisations along the way.
Anna, In 2-3 sentences, please tell us a little about you!
I am a Mindset Coach that helps ambitious overthinkers and perfectionists find clarity in their thoughts and take empowered action towards their dreams. Outside of coaching, I’m a book-nerd, nature enthusiast, painter, dancer, board-game addict and tea aficionado. I’m ultra curious about life and people so anytime you wanna talk philosophy I’m game!
Why did you sign up to be a part of OneUpOneDown?
The stars aligned (seriously). My eyes were peeled for an organisation like OneUpOneDown, and their page popped into my newsfeed one day. I’ve always wanted to be part of a mentorship program because I struggled with spinning thoughts and self-doubt in the past, and now I want to help other women overwhelmed by their nagging voices. I know exactly what I needed to hear back then and what other women need to understand now in order to overcome those blockers.
What does success mean to you? How do you align with your definition at the moment?
Success to me means inner peace, heart-to-heart conversations, and using my gifts to give to what the world needs. Our Digital Age generation is so distracted by technology and devices that it’s hard to decipher which messages are coming from within versus external means. It’s toilsome work to navigate a life of personal fulfilment and purpose with all of the noise. That’s one of the reasons why I became a coach; I want to help others find clarity in what’s truly motivating and energizing them.
What prompted you to pursue the career you’re in now?
Three things: (1) Studying abroad. It opened my eyes to a new way of living and helped me prioritise what was important in my life. (2) Taking a solo camping trip. When you have nothin’ else to listen to but your own thoughts and the crickets, it’s quite an illuminating experience! (3) Feeling drained and unsatisfied in my original work. Boredom drove my curiosity; I felt like I had to be meant for more than what I was doing, so I took to Googling other work/job ideas.
How did you know this is what you wanted to do?
When I was younger I was an oddball and stook out like a sore thumb. I was bullied and became a very anxious kid. It was a dark time where I questioned my identity and felt shameful for my weak, emotional parts. However, the awful times sparked in me this new energy to change, grow, and become the most unbreakable, confident woman possible. For a while, that journey of intense personal-development was thrilling, but the problem was I never fully accepted my ‘demons’ – the parts that made me vulnerable and emotional. As a result, no matter what I achieved I was never 100% satisfied. When it got to the point where I had the fancy job title and the successful lifestyle and even that wasn’t enough, I knew something had to shift.
What I learned through deep introspection and getting coached myself is that we’ve all created these rules and stories as children that we now either have to accept or decline. Many of our rules are unconscious and don’t serve us in guiding our decisions and realities today. For me, unravelling my stories and finding my truth gave me peace, insight, and relief. Finally all of the pieces of the puzzle made sense.
Have you made any big transitions or changes in your career? What were they? How did you do it?
Yes! I transitioned from a software engineering role to a product management role to Mindset Coach. I managed to make it through each transition by talking to as many people as possible. I talked to software engineers and asked them what their biggest regrets were. I talked to product managers and asked them what their life roadmaps were. I talked to coaches and asked them what got them into coaching. And I talked to many, many other people! The most effective support I received was 1-on-1 mentorship/coaching. I was coached through my training program and that was when I experienced my biggest breakthroughs. We all have blind spots, more than we could ever imagine (obviously because we’re blind to them). Those long conversations cleared my mind of the unnecessary junk and helped me focus on diamonds and pearls. When you think about, mindset is integral to every obstacle/change. Thoughts → beliefs → actions → results. So if you want good results, it all starts with the mind.
What is something that has been particularly challenging throughout your career?
Letting go of expectations. I come from a traditional family of engineers and doctors, so when I was younger, I thought those were my only two potential paths. While that made my career decision easy, it made exploring anything outside of that realm incredibly difficult. Letting go of the expectations that my family had of me, expectations from professors to excel in my original path, and judgments from peers/friends have been my biggest challenge so far. I got to a point where I had to decide if I was going to continue living on others’ terms or my own. So I took a stand. I slowly began to release my attachments to the expectations. What I discovered was that my growth from letting attachments go affected more than just my career. The fewer expectations and attachments I had to general objects, materials, and demotivating people, the better my life became.
What have been your go-to tools and strategies to overcome challenging experiences or people in your career?
I have two go-to tools. The first is: feel the feels. I used to brush my negative thoughts aside and trudge through them, but that method of distraction and avoidance would always come back around to bite me in the butt. Lately, I’ve been more compassionate towards my negative emotions. I use a 3-step process: First, I sit with my emotion – rather than resist, just be with it. Then, I get curious about the emotion searching for the positive intention behind it. Finally, when I have enough understanding and sympathy for the emotion, I skillfully respond.
My go-to strategy for getting out of repetitive negative thought patterns is to ask myself, “What am I doing this all for?” Normally when I’m stuck, it’s my inner critique talking: ‘You can’t do this Anna’, ‘What were you thinking?’, ‘You’re crazy!’ The problem feels all big and mighty in my head, but it’s a warped perspective. The problem is usually minuscule in the longer span of my life, and asking myself “what for” zooms me out into my greater reality. It reminds me of my larger purpose of becoming a coach in the first place. I’ll imagine all of the people who are depending on me, all of the lives I want to change. Thinking of my higher intention motivates me to escape my vicious cycle.
What is one personal or professional skill you’re working on at the moment and why?
Professionally I’m improving upon my marketing/sales skills. At times it feels icky and weird to have my own personal brand, where my words, my website, and my persona are out there for the world to see and judge. Some people thrive in the spotlight, whereas my instinctual reaction in the past has been to shrink and hide. To stay grounded, I remind myself that the only way I’m going to touch all the people I want to support is by being brave and overcoming my fears of rejection and misjudgment. I need to allow myself to be seen and heard.
What is something you wish you’d known when you were first starting out in your career?
I wish someone told me to listen to my gut earlier. That the weird feeling I had in the pit of my stomach was trying to tell me something important, and was not to be ignored. Starting out in my career all I wanted was to be successful and feel grateful for what I had, so I tried to ignore my opposing feelings by shoving them under the rug, burying them deep in the sand, locking them in a tight chest. But that only made them grow stronger and more oppressive. The best thing I could’ve done earlier was to pause and get curious about what my gut was trying to tell me.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone navigating their own career?
Invest in yourself first, because you are your greatest asset. This could mean creating a self-care routine, reading inspirational books, taking your vitamins/supplements, getting a coach or mentor, joining a Mastermind group, or whatever else that sustains and levels you up! If you want to do something great or meaningful in your life, you need to take care of yourself. Jobs come and go, but you stay. I’ve seen time and time again where some of my most kind-hearted clients think that self-sacrificing is the best way to give to others or succeed in their work. However, that is a disillusion. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You give more to others when you are radiating positive, inspired energy.
How can we follow your journey?
If you’d like to keep up with my journey, you can follow me on my coaching website (which also houses my blog), my Instagram with cool mindset tidbits, or Facebook. I also host free workshops ~once a month on all sorts of life obstacles (ex. low motivation, mindfulness, fear/anxiety, etc), so if you’d like to be notified of them or just wanna send me a random question you can email me here: [email protected].