You've Always Deserved Better: Reflections 8 Months Post Resignation

September 27, 2021

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are creatures of habit who very rarely stray from the patterns we established as children.  I don't mean that this isn't fluid, I believe we can alter patterns but first we must be aware of them in our lives.  As I approach my 8-month-resignation anniversary and my 7-month therapy anniversary Ive been reflecting on some patterns that continue to show up in my life.   Back in January of 2021, I quit a job I held for nearly ten years and severed a near 15 year relationship with an institution I believed for so long I was indebted to. As a single mom, head of household with no money or connections, I believed that if it weren't for the public university system and financial aid there would have been no way for me to be able to complete a degree. It wasnt just the cost, the university employed me as a young student and paid me a very good hourly rate, the union provided sick and vaction days, in addition to a decent health insurance for my son and I. Truly a human right that shouldn't be tied to employment but that is for another post. I was so emeshed in this university that I didnt know where it ended and where I began. My unhappiness in my role and the microagressions, sexual harassment and verbal abuse I endured at the university slowly, but surely started to tarnish the gloss I had as an undergraduate student but I still felt "how could I do better?"  

I worked on a beautiful college campus, I had made some great connections, was part of a union, earned a good salary, with benefits, had a huge office and some autonomy, which on reflection was really benign neglect.   For all intents and purposes, the job really created stability in my life, especially as I was ironing out other areas of my personal life, like falling in love, getting married, creating a family and a home, vacationing, buying a house, raising our children and starting and completing a masters degree. While it wasn't, by any means, rainbows and butterflies, I knew I was unhappy and the environment was taking a toll on my mental health but I was "comfortable".  After all, this was what I knew and yeah, it was bad a lot of the time, but it was familiar.  I knew what to expect and had cobbled some degree of protection by trauma bonding with my fellow co-workers who suffered in the same environment.  This is not a "misery loves company" comparison, this was a survival tactic.  Each of us, in our own way, became complacent and perhaps beaten down enough to think that "the struggle" came with any job and this one we knew so let's stick it out until a messiah aka new Dean came to save us all!  Then came the reckoning of 2020. So many awakenings and clarity that helped clear space in my mind to imagine dropping this identity that no longer served me. I had become complacent in my own life, I was comfortable even as I was enduring all kinds of abuse.  I shared this insight in parts 1 and 2 of my "I Quit My Job" post so I won't revisit here but while I was away last month on a work assignment in Accra, Ghana I had an epiphany that I wanted to share in the hopes that it may help you in your life.  

As I shared on my YT channel back in July, I was hired as a management consultant.   It was thrilling and exciting work and it really helped me understand what I was passionate about.  One night, as my trip was coming to an end, I had an awakening moment.  With a little bit of distance and space, instead of focusing on what had happened to me and where I now found myself, I began to think about what would make me stay in a situation that was hurting me for so long.  I started to think about patterns in my life and how often I found myself settling into abusive situations and while I am not taking their responsibility away from them I was trying to understand, why on some level I believed I deserved this.  Why did I think I should expect things to be so hard.  I thought about these patterns and thought about where I was at that moment and how happy, safe, loved and supported I felt and I cried for the years of my life I spent in situations that harmed me.  I started to link these patterns back to my childhood, growing up in my home where abuse and addiction was a normal occurrence.  I realized, in some ways, I was primed for this.  Chaos and dysfunction was familiar and yes I have managed to carve a very healthy marriage for myself despite what was modeled, I still accepted chaos and dysfunction in other key areas of my life.   It wasn't until three years ago when I decided to protect myself from dysfunction, chaos and pain in my familial relationships which allowed space for reflection, growth and healing, that I was able to examine my life as a whole.  When I resigned back in January, just like the times I broke off bad relationships, I didn't FULLY understand why I was making this decision, I just knew it needed to be done.  

In that moment, in the middle of a weeping session, I was renewed and restored, forgiving myself for what I allowed to carry on for far too long and promising that I would remember that life doesn't have to be hard all the time.  Life can be easy, joyful and peaceful and I should expect it and walk away from anything or anyone that will risk my mental health in the long run.  I decide that and so do you.  We decide who we allow to stay in our lives, the jobs we keep, we decide the boundaries we set, and we decide when it's time to walk away.  

Eight months later, I am not fully healed but I am healing.  I feel it deep within and that's all I can ever hope for.  

Thanks for reading,


Building Habits That Will Finally Stick: 4 Powerful Tips

September 19, 2021

It is not enough to set goals, big or small, I mean anyone can, right? But what sets goal-setters and goal-achievers apart? I've got some experience in both spaces but up until about four years ago I was a solid goal-setter. I set goals like for example, I am going to cut all crap out of my diet. I am going to workout consistently and train like an athlete to get a fit and toned body that would make a 20 year old jealous. I am going to be disciplined with how I spend my evenings and weekends so that I am not scrolling on my phone, shopping online or watching endless hours of the boob tube which always made me feel terrible about myself anyway. I would set these goals typically as a New Year's resolution, New Year, New Me, right? Who hasnt said that and really meant it that time? Hands-up. Well, for years I found myself in this pattern. I would set my goal, join a gym, buy cute workout fits, buy a few cooking books and fiction titles etc. you know, throw money at it and then come February my motivation would tapper out and I would find myself back at square 1, deflated and a little poorer than when I started. If you can relate and find yourself in this same pattern, keep reading.
1. Start With Internal Work The problem here is you and no amount of money you throw at it will change anything in the long term for you. Ouch! Sorry, but it had to be said. Four years ago I decided to accept full responsibility for the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. I knew that I had to strip myself of all the excuses I made for myself. I sat down with pen and paper and thought about my goals. For this post, let's focus on my goal to workout consistently, to fully embed the habit of working out as something I do daily like example making my bed in the morning or brushing my teeth. These are habits that I wasnt born doing or knowing about. I was taught and the practice was instilled in me by my mother and it has, thankfully, stuck with me into adulthood and I passed this knowledge onto my kids. I know what you may be thinking, making your bed or brushing your teeth is NOT the same as working out everyday. Fair enough but the gist is that you can be taught, habits can be formed and solidified into a routine. Start from there. Now with pen and paper, write out why this goal is something you want to create a habit around and eventually a routine you dont question, you just do. Instead of focusing on your habit as a goal, reframe the habit into the type of person you want to become

  Prompt: "I want to become:" 

Let's use my workout example. Instead of "I want to get a fit and toned body that would make any 20 year old jealous", I reframed it to, "I want to become the type of person who shows her body love and respect by nourishing and moving it as an expression of deep self love." Then ask yourself, "What habit will help me form this identity?" Using my example, What would a person who respects and loves her body do? My answer, "A person who loves and respects her body will eat fresh fruit and vegetables 85% of the time, she will workout four times a week not as a punishment but as a practice of self love. She gets to workout to feel good and no number on a scale or pant size can determine the joy she feels when she is moving her body in appreciation. 

  Prompt: "The habit I want to build"
2. Be Specific: To get a habit off the ground, for real this time, you've got to set your intentions. They have to be super specific, the more specific you can get the better. 

Prompt: When will you perform your habit? For how long? How many times a week? Where will you perform your habit? 

To help, it might make sense to anchor this new habit with an existing habit, for example I workout at night before I shower and get into my pajamas. Anchoring it with my night time routine helped train my brain to expect a good sweat session before a wind down. The less you have to think about it, the better.
3. Mindset: I am not sure if you caught it in my Step 1 example but I used, "She gets to workout to feel good", when I was describing the identity I wanted to build. This subtle shift in going from, "I have to" to "I get to" is a mindset shift in action. Instead of focusing on what you might consider as being taken away like maybe, "I dont get to watch as much t.v. as I want" or "I have to wake up earlier", think about what you gain from this new habit. For example, shift "I have to wake up early now", to, "I get to have more time for myself before starting my workday" 

  Prompt: "I have to ________________ now becomes I get to ________________________.
4. Identify Obstacles and Create a Plan of Action: Now begin to think about why you have "failed" in the past. (Failed is in quotes because I dont believe in failure as a detriment to our growth, Ive learned the biggest lessons in my perceived failures and THAT feels like a win to me.) Now is not the time to judge yourself and allow that inner critic to paralyze you from moving forward, we are here now, we can make the changes we want to see in ourselves. Keep going. For me, an obstacle in creating a sustainable workout habit/routine was convenience. If I had to travel to a gym to workout after work, chances are on those dark, rainy, snowy, bone chilling cold winter nights I would talk myself out of going, the same was true on beautiful summer days, chances are I'd talk myself out of going. One day turned into a week, turned into a month and you get the picture here. I knew I had to remove that obstacle so I opted to find a program I could do anywhere (preferably my home) and at any time (at night). Please note, I did not throw money at this goal intially. I didnt run out and buy a home gym, weights and all the bells and whistles. I started at 0, I downloaded a workout app that I had researched and used items around the house like a chair, used waterbottles for weights or whatever I had on hand. It was important for me that I approached this goal from a totally different angle. Simply and honestly. 

  Prompt: Obstacles in the way of me doing my habit:     How can I get rid of those obstacles: 

 You want to make sure the habit itself isnt an obstacle, so make it short and simple. My workouts are no more than 20-30 minutes a day. Again, simple and honest. Make sure you keep this in mind as you set out your plan. Less is more and if you think you have to go from never working out to working out 6x a week, or going from waking up 20 minutes before you have to leave for work to waking up at 5am and meditating, you should revaluate your why. In closing, remember to create small, buildable steps. Be patient and consistent. Take a break, but come back to it. When you feel yourself falling back into old patterns, recognize that, think about what may be triggering this reaction and come back to this entry. Re-read your why, adjust it if it is clearer to you now. Be realistic with where you are and where you want to be and breakdown the steps to their simplist, attainable tasks. Reconfigure, readjust, restratigize, adjust the timeline, whatever it takes to reach that version of yourself that is within. 

Start NOW! 

 Thanks for reading, until next time.

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