490: Breaking The Burnout Cycle By Upgrading Your Mindset

Charity was experiencing major burnout and thought she just needed a new job until 2 shocking rejections opened her eyes to the hamster wheel she was on. Then everything changed.



Charity Von Guinness Photographed by Michelle Lisa Polissaint
Charity Von Guinness, Executive Director at RiNo Art District

Charity’s career misalignment was leading to burnout in each job she held until she took the reins of her career, and went after a role that would fit the life she truly wanted to be living.

Photography by Michelle Lisa Polissaint

on this episode

Have you ever been rejected by a job opportunity and felt relief? 

That’s what happened to Charity. Her entire career had been a cycle of unconsciously falling into similar role after role. She had begun to experience burnout, which led to her robotically applying for similar jobs, just like she’d done every time she got that feeling.

But when she was rejected by a few jobs she thought she had in the bag, she realized she needed a much more encompassing change than she had originally thought. 

Charity had been growing in other areas of her life, aligning them with her values, but she felt like she was stuck in her career.

“It just became very clear to me the level of unconsciousness that I had been living with, and that lack of intentionality throughout my entire history.”

Listen to how Charity pushed herself outside of her comfort zone, took the reins of her life and career, and started intentionally designing her life to be everything that she knew it could be.

What you’ll learn

  • Why staying in your current role may be the biggest risk of all
  • How to use your differences and uniqueness as strengths 
  • The importance of giving yourself a deadline and taking action (even if you’re not ready!)
  • How to align your career search with your values
  • How to know if you’re on a proactive or reactive career path

Success Stories

I really was able to get clear on what I what it is that I really wanted. In my future career, I was able to change my mindset and my perception of what I thought was possible, which was a really big one for me, because prior to this, I really, I think I limited my myself and my potential, simply because of where I was at currently. And so I was able to think bigger, and really hone in on, you know, where my skills are, where I want to take them and how I'm going to get there. And it really just empowered me to take change, and it gave me the confidence and conviction, I needed to take those steps. So yeah, it was it was really a great a great one.

Nicole Mathessen, Manager Marketing & Creative Services, United States/Canada

I convinced myself for many years, that I was very lucky to have that job, and I would be crazy to leave it. I convinced myself that the team needed me even though I was miserable. And ultimately, it took me getting physically sick to realize I needed to leave! One of the biggest things that I learned out of the signature coaching was on designing my life. And this is another thing that I had really never, it had, I don't know, if it had never occurred to me. I just never believed it was possible until now.

Michael Fagone, Mortgage Loan Officer and Finance Executive, United States/Canada

Charity Von Guiness 00:01

I really felt like my insides were screaming at that point, like, you have to get out of here. You are not doing what you were put here to do.

Introduction 00:17

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you feel like you were meant for more and ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:42

Have you ever looked at your work calendar or to-do list and thought, "I don't want to do one single thing on this entire very long list." You might think this is normal that you should just put your head down and push through. But actually, if you experienced this over and over for a long period of time, it's pretty likely a red flag that you're not working in your strengths and it's time for change.

Charity Von Guiness 01:09

The more I got clear about my own value (and values), the more I realized how unaligned my entire situation was to who I was to, you know, what I valued.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:24

That's Charity Von Guiness. Charity had been working in the arts for 20 years when she had the realization that although she loved the arts, she did not enjoy the work that she was doing. She felt like she had been unconsciously falling into role after role since she graduated college– never stopping to consider "what do I really need to be able to enjoy my career?" That is until the beginning of 2022, when she decided that something had to change. I think you're gonna love this conversation. I want you to pay attention to how Charity grabbed a hold of the reins in her career, envisioned what her unicorn role or unicorn opportunity could look like and consciously and energetically made the moves to lasso that unicorn. Here's Charity, taking us back to where her career began.

Charity Von Guiness 02:16

I have always been an avid lover and very passionate about the arts, so that was a natural thing for me to study in school. So in some capacity over the last 20 years, I have been working in the nonprofit arts space that was not linear, and it was certainly a bit of a bumpy road along the way but that has been the majority of my career.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:38

When you say working in the arts and nonprofit space, give me a little bit of context as to what that looks like for people that might not be aware of what that is.

Charity Von Guiness 02:49

Yeah, so most arts organizations are in fact nonprofits. So whether it's something as large as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to something incredibly small arts education wise that goes into schools, so really runs the gamut of every discipline of art, whether it's performing arts, visual arts, it is really something where people are totally reliant on donors or governmental agencies to fund their operations from day to day.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:19

Very cool. What led you up to this most recent change?

Charity Von Guiness 03:25

Yeah. So in January of 2022, I was just adamant that I could not stay where I was. And what happened was, I did what I typically do, continuing the cycle of just reacting and I started applying madly to all these jobs. What happened in March was I was flying all around the country, giving presentations, I was a final... two candidates in a couple of different situations. And it was incredibly intense. It was– I was trying to juggle like three different organizational priorities at that moment. And the first week of April, I heard back from those two jobs that I was certain I had in the bag, and they both told me they went with another candidate. I think my family and friends were just responding, "Oh, you must be devastated." "Oh, you must..." And I was not devastated, Scott. I was relieved.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:18

What made you relieved in that particular case?

Charity Von Guiness 04:21

I think I knew what was happening in that moment that it was just going to be doing the same thing, just a different organization, and this cycle would just be continuing. So that relief caused me to put on the brakes and just say, "Alright, I've got to stop this cycle. I cannot be reactive. I have to do this on purpose." I can't think of another term but just this level of awareness where it just became very clear to me– the level of unconsciousness that I had been living with and that lack of intentionality throughout my entire history. So I think at that moment, there was relief, because I finally felt like I could see this cycle and know what to do to end it. And that gave me a tremendous amount of hope. I will say. So, yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:20

That's fascinating. That is fascinating to me, because it allowed you to be able to see the cycle. And I'm also hearing from you that it was much of that previous work to have enough recognition about what you wanted. But what did that hope or what did that cycle look like? What were you thinking in that moment? Do you remember back to that point, like, what were some of the thoughts that were going through your head? What made you recognize that "wow, there's hope here. This is fantastic." as opposed to terrible?

Charity Von Guiness 05:53

Yeah. I mean, of course, there was a level of despair to a certain degree. But there was also this, "Hold on a second. I have the power here. I can take this pen back. I can start writing my story. I do not have to be part of outsourcing this." And I think this is a really important question that I had to ask at that point, because we are all serving something. And when you are in service that always requires a measure of struggle and sacrifice. So for me, that looks like me asking myself, "What are you serving?" And the answer to that Scott was not my own story. I will tell you that. It was someone else's. So if we are going to be struggling and sacrificing for something, why not let it be what we decided to be. And I think that was really the moment, and again, where there are resources out there, like career coaching that I really needed to get clear. So I think just taking that power back was a huge part of this whole story.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:00

I can definitely appreciate that. And that's much easier to say that you need to take the power back than it is to actively do that on a day in and day out basis. And I think you've done a really nice job of doing that. And one of the things I wanted to ask you about here was, once you had this realization, once you had the recognition that "Hey, this actually can be a wonderful opportunity. This is where I can take that back. This is where I can take the power back. That's where I can move on to whatever the next step might look like intentionally." What did you believe was possible for you? Did you start out saying, "hey, this type of role that you're in right now, this type of opportunity is totally where I'm going to go." Or was it more a, "I'm not sure exactly what could be possible for me." Help me understand what took place in between.

Charity Von Guiness 07:52

Yeah. I think, you know, when I first started with career coaching, I was adamant that I was not saying nonprofit work, absolutely adamant. So for me, it was really, I mean, this was all really, really hard. And I am not a very patient person. So just wanting to get this, like, in motion really quickly. And just trying to hold myself back just saying, "No, we've got to slow down. You have to slow down." So I started this whole journey off with HTYC, thinking not totally outside of my old responsibilities at this position. So I was looking at brand strategy, creative direction, getting back into fashion was another one. And thankfully, I had a lot of connections to people in these areas, and it was just over that first kind of month and a half, where I was just going through job after job after job realizing after talking to people, this was not going to be the right fit for me, this was not giving me the level of authority that I wanted over the creative process and other things. So I think there was definitely a point about a month and a half in where I had gone through several different iterations of what I wanted to do, and realizing they were not what I thought they were, and just really getting like, "Oh my god. This is, wow, I don't know what I'm going to do here" and living in that place of unknown and uncertainty is so difficult. But let me tell you something, that has been the best leadership training ever, because we have to be able to live in the paradox. And just thinking about when we are in this level of activity and frenetic movement, what we are doing is in that either or black and white mindset. And typically when you're in that mindset, you're going to be overcorrecting for the wrong problem. So I think getting outside of that and being willing and open to live in that awkward and uncomfortable space of uncertainty was really a powerful lesson for me. And you can't do it every day. These are not things that just happen. This is a practice. You have to stay on top of it. And certainly, I've had several breakdowns and moments of despair and feeling just hopeless around everything. But I think trying to stay on top of that, and being intentional and showing yourself compassion and grace, and not knowing and not having all the answers and not being clear.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:39

Can I read something from your coach that she wrote about one of those periods where you are in doubt?

Charity Von Guiness 10:48

Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:50

Your coach had wrote: "Charity doubted that she would find an ideal role for her" and this is talking about a particular time. "She thought that her tatted look would not appeal to people, but they loved her for it as what we found. And Charity is very well spoken, and really into doing the deep work and being a positive leader." And she went on to talk about a couple areas that were really a struggle for you and a couple areas that you did really, really very well. At that point in time, what caused you... tell me more about when you were in doubt that you would find that ideal role?

Charity Von Guiness 11:27

Yeah. I think and for, obviously, people listening, they can't see what I look like, but I'm a heavily tattooed woman. And I also really pride myself in how I show up and how I dress. I'm really into that. That's kind of a creative form of expression for me. And that, I know people think like, "oh, that's not a big deal anymore." But it is. And it has limited me. And so working with and on this level of intentionally designing my life, I wanted to and I just put out there, I said, "I want the way I look, the way I show up to be an asset and not a liability." And my experience from that point had been a liability– the way I looked, the way I spoke, the way I dressed, all of these things were too risky. They were too aggressive or in your face. And yeah, so I think that was really a big thing for me to her point.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:26

What do you think, up till that point, was causing you to only focus on the liability side, as opposed to that, you know, who you are and how you represent the outward version of yourself could also be a huge asset, and a wonderful thing in the right situation, the right environment surrounded by the other right people?

Charity Von Guiness 12:50

Yeah, I think for me, I just didn't think that was possible. It wasn't that I was questioning my own value, it was just that I just did not think there was ever going to be a time that someone would appreciate any of these things, or that they would be an asset. And for me, writing out some of my vision around what I wanted, I was writing it the whole time going, "This is never going to happen– being in leadership, being considered a thought leader, just being in a high visibility position where I can change the narrative around what leadership looks like, and that it's not authoritarian. And we're building these cultures of collective resources and belonging and inclusion." So I think, yeah, I was writing all this. And the whole time in my head, I was like, "Well, this, yeah, this is not gonna happen." And again, I think it goes back to what you so often say about, we are in our own way, we make our own limitations. And I think that was the case in point where I was just saying, "this is a nice fairy tale", when I was writing my ideal career profile or this vision. So not believing any of this.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:11

Whether we're talking about Inc., or whether we're talking about something completely different, that is a trend that I've seen over and over again, where even as we're going through any part of a process and even we're defining what extraordinary can look like for an individual, especially when we're working on the back end with people like you, there seems to be so much of that doubt that's there. So my question to you, Charity, is what caused you to go from, "hey, I'm writing this down, but yeah, right." to begin to believe that it could be a possibility for you?

Charity Von Guiness 14:50

I think it was really around understanding that, whatever people have told you, you are too much of, is actually your superpower. So I think for me, I've always been told, "you're too energetic", "you're too passionate", "you talk too much", whatever, and just realizing that... and it was so interesting because, Ang can attest to that, it was literally like this epiphany. I had one morning at the gym where I was like, "You know what? My optimism is not stupid." And it comes from a place of really wrestling with hard things, and how powerful that optimism is. And I remember telling her, "I am so just... I don't know, marginalized or belittled for that aspect of who I am." And, you know, just understanding that, "No. This is not something that I'm too much of. The world needs more of this. They need more of this undying belief, and hope in the future." But from a place of understanding the other side of things, and really wrestling with those things. So yeah, I mean,that was an amazing moment when I realized that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:07

I love that. I have tingles, that is so fantastic. And I want to dig into a little bit, how you went from that moment to where you're at now actually being in a role that really is such a better fit in many different ways. Talk to me about what that process looked like for you. Let's get into the nitty gritty a little bit.

Charity Von Guiness 16:32

I think, for me, I really had to go through all of these other things. So I really had to experience being super gung ho about a totally different track of career and these moves, and then going through the whole process of being disappointed about it, because it was not for me, but I had to know those things. I had to know those things to get clear on where I was going. And I think at that moment when I realized where my superpower was, was, in fact, around these things that I usually get so maligned about, so to speak. It just became really clear to me in that moment that, you know what, I don't have to do something drastic, I don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, with nonprofits. And this opportunity arose. And I'll tell you, I mean, when they reached out to me, I was like, "Well, that's sweet." I mean, they don't know what I look like. And so I had zero expectations around anything. And I certainly did not think... I was like, they're gonna see me a 'no', like, we can't put her in a leadership position. And the funny thing was, in fact too, I was still so, I think, a little trepidation about a nonprofit work that the week before my interview, I actually texted Ang, and I was like, "I'm gonna cancel this. I don't think this is the way I should go." And I was about to do that. And she told me "Do not do that. Just go ahead with the interview. Just be curious. Just show up as yourself, as Charity." And that's exactly what I did. And within two hours after that interview, they had written me and said, "We need you to fly you out here." And I was like, "what?" Like I was in a total state of shock. And so going through this experience with this whole interview process here, and really meeting people and board members and nonprofit that has really abundant thinking that is not in thrall with a scarcity mindset, this entire situation has just blasted through so many erroneous beliefs that I had around myself, nonprofit, where everything. So I think, and being here, and just having people be so validating, and supporting around who I am, about how I show up, about that those things were what they wanted. They wanted my personal brand that I had built. I mean, I can't imagine, like, who could imagine a better place to be in with that level of support and acknowledgement?

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:24

Have you ever had that experience prior to this?

Charity Von Guiness 19:28

Absolutely not. No. Absolutely not. So I think all of our mothers think we're fantastic. But you know, beyond that, I definitely, I don't feel like I have been on the receiving end of someone expressing where they thought I had value. So that's really been hard to come from inside of me to realize my own value. So, and again, this is important to say, I think once you realize that, then everyone else realizes that around you. So, case in point, certainly with this. But I mean, this entire experience has been phenomenal. And again, getting really specific and clear on those intentions, and that is what... I mean, if you read my ideal career profile, everything is like, I was like, I can look out the window and see mountains. I'm looking out my window right now and I see mountains. I mean, down to that level of granularity. So I think, yeah, I mean, this has just been an incredible experience. But again, we have to be honest, the moment I said yes to this job, things got real hard. Things got real, real hard. So I think really talking about the ups and downs, I mean, this is an absolute emotional roller coaster. And every step of the way, I have been talking myself out of doing these things. And I think we have to be super aware of that, you will always have a laundry list of reasons to stay exactly where you are. And your brain is going to fight to keep you there. You can talk yourself out of anything, 100%.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:11

We, and our brains are fantastic at self preservation, even if it is truly not good for us in the long run. And to your point, I do see over and over again, we can talk ourselves out of just about anything that could potentially be amazing, and have wonderful justifications for it. That said, I appreciate you pointing that out that even when you said yes to this opportunity, and even when you had wonderful evidence that lined up well with your ideal career profile, you're still experiencing challenges. And that's something we haven't talked a lot about on the show, that even when you get to that point, even when you have that opportunity, what we often call a unicorn opportunity– one that we don't necessarily believe is real or that other people don't believe it's real –even when we get to that point, it doesn't automatically mean that everything is, I don't know what to keep with our unicorn theme, I guess like rainbows and butterflies and everything else. And it introduces new challenges, new problems, new growth in so many different ways. And I appreciate you pointing that out. That doesn't mean that everything is rosy, it means that you get better problems and better challenges, and ones that are more aligned to you that are more worthwhile. So what advice would you give to those people who are thinking about making the type of change that you did? Put yourself way back here to January of 2022, where you're starting to have that realization and you're starting to recognize that you needed a change. What advice would you give to people in that moment, that place?

Charity Von Guiness 23:00

I think you really need to get clear about what you need, and identifying when something doesn't feel right. I think just acknowledging when you're feeling out of alignment with what you're doing, and I think just getting real aware of the day to day and what's working and what's not. And yeah, and in regards to these needs, just knowing when you need support, and help, and guidance around some of these things, because it is not easy. And in my situation, I'm moving halfway across the country. So yeah, I mean, there's just a lot. And I think you need to be prepared not only for talking yourself out of things, but also all of those old stories and narratives and insecurities that I have had, they've all come up again. But this time, I'm able to say, "Okay, I see you. I know what you're trying to do here. And I'm much better able to manage those thoughts and feelings and stories." So I think that's two really big things. But otherwise, you have to take action. And for me, this has been... I'm a very action oriented person anyway. But you know, I have taken enormous risks over the last few months. And I've done them terrified. I've done absolutely terrified. I have done them, not knowing where things were going to go, sometimes anticipating the worst of course, that's just where we go. So yeah, I think those are real big things through this process.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:46

Let me read you something else that your coach wrote really quick because I think you did a great job taking action, and she did too. She said, "What Charity did well was do the deeper work to envision what she really wanted. And if she saw an opportunity she was curious about, she just went after it. She took action when she didn't feel 100% ready and was crazy nervous, but she did it anyway." So here's my question, you are more action oriented, but I'm curious, what helps you to take action even when you're crazy nervous, or even when you don't feel good about it, even when you're, as you said, terrified?

Charity Von Guiness 25:23

Yeah. I think you know, we just keep going back to a lot of this harder work and these habits. And I think building in this level of conditioning, where you're doing mental conditioning, skills conditioning, physical conditioning, because this requires such a high level of resilience. And part of that is just being able to trust yourself. Just trust yourself. That no matter what happens, you're going to figure it out. And I think for me, just continually reminding myself, just do the thing. You're gonna figure it out, whatever happens. And I think that was such a huge part of coaching as well. And Ang's position is just having someone because those doubts come in, those stories come in, and you start shrinking, you start shrinking back again, and making yourself small and going back to that place. And I think having Ang there to just say, "No, you don't. You're playing big now. You're not going back there." That level of accountability and breaking through those cycles of thoughts was huge.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:32

Well, I appreciate you sharing, and I appreciate you taking us through your story. You did some amazing work here. How does this feel in this moment? I'm super curious.

Charity Von Guiness 26:42

You know, I go through cycles of having to pinch myself, because I'm like, "how did this just happen?" And then also just feeling like, of course, but like, this feels totally normal because it feels so right. But then you also have to recognize how wild this has been, and that it is absolutely incredible that I am where I am. So yeah, it's kind of both and this paradoxical leadership we have to live in.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:16

I feel like the story of my life, you talked about living in the, what I would call the gray area, the non black and white, and this paradoxical type of living. And I feel like that's really where, not to use a cliche in here, but I feel like that's really where the magic happens in so many different ways. And that's certainly where it seems to have happened for you. Anything else you want to share?

Charity Von Guiness 27:46

Yeah, I think there's a couple of different things that really helped me take the pressure off myself out of situations, because I think we all just want those answers right away. And the first one is actually a quote from Malcolm Gladwell from a lecture I was in with him. And he said, you know, "Our job is not to come up with the ideas. Our job is to find them." And for me, that took so much of the onus off of myself, where I just had to be open, I just had to be aware, I just had to be curious. The answers were already there. I just needed to find them. And that was, wow, such a huge relief, and just being able to remind myself of that. And I think, you know, two huge factors was, for me, stoic philosophy is all about the obstacle is the way. So those challenges, those are the way forward, they're not pushing you back. And that is really how we have to define success. It's not about making mistakes, we're all going to make mistakes. It's about getting up and then just learning from it and moving forward and making something fantastic of it. I'm saying all this stuff now, but when you're in it, it's super hard. I'm not going to deny that. And there are definitely moments that I had just total breakdowns. But, you know, I think those are really important concepts to absorb that it's… you don't have to put that pressure on yourself to find all the answers and get clear on everything. They're out there. You just have to trust that they're out there, and you will find them when you're ready to find them. So I think, yeah, I would just encourage people and our potential is always greater than the challenge that we're facing. We have to believe that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:43

Most of the episodes you've heard on Happen To Your Career showcase stories of people that have taken the steps to identify and land careers that they are absolutely enamored with, that match their strengths, and are really what they want in their lives. If that's something that you're ready to begin taking steps towards, that's awesome. And we want to figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest, take the next five seconds to open up your email app and email me directly. I'm gonna give you my personal email address– scott@happentoyourcareer.com. Just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And when you do that, I'll introduce you to someone on our team who you can have a super informal conversation with and we'll figure out the very best type of help for you, whatever that looks like, and the very best way that we can support you to make it happen. So send me an email right now with 'Conversation' in the subject line. Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Phillip Migyanko 30:41

Who is in your network right now who is one step closer to where you want to be?

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:49

Finding your ideal career in today's world often hinges on building, maintaining and utilizing your professional network. Now, that seems like a pretty huge task. And honestly, it can be. There's no build relationships in the network quick tool that can use to hack the system. It takes a lot of self reflection, persistence and authenticity. In today's episode, we're going to dig into a few questions that we get all the time about building relationships and networks which can include– how do I find people to reach out to and build relationships with and how do I even figure out who those right people are. All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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