212: Is Your Fear of Other’s Expectations Holding You Back From Living Your Most Authentic Life?


Why does the term “live authentically” seem like it’s been popping up everywhere these days?

In fact, if you just Google it,  only 2.47 Million results appear ( if you can’t tell, I’m dripping with sarcasm).

But, why do we all have this urge to “live an authentic life” in the first place?

Well first, let’s take a step back. What does “living authentically” actually mean? According to a quick Google search:

Even more simply put, living authentically:


While that sounds nice (and can make for a fancy facebook post–I know you’ve seen them) it’s actually a lot harder to achieve in real life than one might think. And, it turns out that if we thought it was difficult to be ourselves around our friends and family, it feels near impossible to do be our real, authentic selves in our careers.

Especially in the beginning. I mean, why do you think that a whole style of “behavioral style interviewing” has popped up so that companies feel like they need to extract the truth from us…just to find out if we’re a “fit” or not? Worse yet, why do we feel like we need to play the part of a different person just to get that job in the first place?

Then, when we finally get hired, we’re surprised–and now expected to be this person that we were during the interview process (hint: definitely not “living authentically”).

Talk about a recipe for unhappiness!


Well ultimately, it comes down to fear.

Since most of us feel like we have to behave like one person when we’re at work, and a difference person when we’re, that in itself creates a social expectation. if you want to be yourself at all times, you’re bucking the trend.

Because, in our world today it’s  not “normal” to be get paid be who you are, using your true strengths instead of just the skills you’ve picked up in various roles along the way.

But, you want to know the weirdest part? By resisting being your most authentic self at all times because of fear, we are ensuring that we stay unhappy by default.


It’s been on my new year’s wish list for about three years to find a new job. It’s taken a while. I’ll be transitioning into a new role helping to develop a science and sustainability program at a university near where I live.


Meet Jenny.

Jenny has had no shortage of accomplishments in her life. With a Stanford BA, a science PhD, and a successful track record in several different fields, Jenny is a highly intelligent, rapid learner (not to mention an amazing mother of 2 kids!) and basically, an all around a rockstar. But, three years ago Jenny came to the conclusion that her role as a research scientist wasn’t a great fit. She knew something had to change.

She started slowly (very slowly) on a journey that would ultimately completely change her life–and in the end align her career with who she was as a person.

There was only one problem: During the first 18 months of Jenny’s job search, she found that she was moving so slowly, she was actually stuck.

That’s because Jenny was making her decisions based on fear and what other people might think, instead of what she knew was right for her.

You can listen to Jenny’s entire story, and hear exactly how she began to believe she really could create a new career identity for herself based on the things she couldn’t stop doing.

I didn’t want to let down my family, which is full of scientists and academics, my advisor, my professors, my peers, other women in science, particularly I felt like I needed to live up to the expectations to fulfill the investment I and they have made in this research track.

It was in that exact moment of considering the many people involved in her current career path that Jenny realized she wasn’t going to make the change she need to make alone. In Jenny’s search, she stumbled upon the Happen to Your Career podcast, ultimately enrolling in our Career Change Bootcamp program.

When we first started to work with Jenny, we helped her to identify what her “gifts” were. Essentially, Jenny had to figure out what were the areas she naturally gravitated to, but maybe didn’t value or couldn’t use fully in her current role.

During that process, Jenny realized that the “people” side of the equation (i.e. how she related to others, built relationships with others or worked through the complexities that people bring) was where she flourished. But, this was the exact opposite side of the table from where she spent most of her time at work. Science roles really do often fit the stereotype of solitary data crunching, analyzing, and writing.

This was a huge insight for me, in my science role in my home agency I was not rewarded in the metrics of contributing to complex problem solving efforts. I’m rewarded for the number of scientific papers I publish in journals on scientific results. The more I got involved in the people side of the equation and the relationships and collaboration the less time I was investing in completing and writing up and publishing results.

This insight led Jenny to realize that her ideal role would be somewhere that allowed her to use her love of science and experience in the field, but at an organization that specifically valued and highlighted her ability to work with well with a wide variety of people and problems.


The good news: Since Jenny hadn’t been getting rewarded for her strengths in her day job, she had been searching for other ways to fulfill her passions.

So, Jenny began volunteering occasionally for organizations and events such as the local museums, schools, and universities’ children’s science programs. Through that process, she identified that places that had the intersection of people AND science could be a fit for her.

She began to strategically put herself out there in small but genuine ways, using her natural gifts – getting reinforcement and positive feedback.

This allowed Jenny to prove to herself that her strengths really could be useful in a different role –rather than somewhat of a liability as she had been led to believe in past roles. Also, her volunteering experience allowed her get to know people in key positions within several organizations she was interested in.

As she began having success connecting with people who had the authority to hire her (or even create a position for her!), Jenny ran into an issue. She began to worry about her supervisor and coworkers finding out from someone else that she was looking. And questioning or outright criticizing her desire to transition from an excellent research job that she “should” appreciate and perform well in.

Since Jenny was unwilling to allow this to happen, this new fear nearly brought her journey to a standstill once again.


The first time I pitched her the idea that her boss could help her through this process, instead of prevent it Jenny flat out told me, it wasn’t going to happen. She was terrified!

Eventually though, she warmed up to the idea–especially when a role opened up that she thought might be an amazing fit…and she felt like she had no other options than to be clear about her goals.

So, we coached her through the process of exactly how to have a conversation with her boss so that he would not just understand her situation, but actively be willing to support her in making this change.

This courageous and genuine discussion with her supervisor ultimately enabled her to get his endorsement on changing jobs outside the organization–even if it was almost 9 months before it actually happened.

With another barrier lifted, it became easier for her to put more energy and effort into finding a career that matched her gifts and values.


Now that Jenny was much more confident in what she wanted for her career, she knew what she needed to do in order to pursue the role that she wanted. This ultimately made it possible to recognize a great opportunity for her when she saw it,…but she wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Jenny did amazing work connecting with colleagues whose roles in science outreach and education intrigued her, at a University she was interested in. Eventually she secured an interview for a position that sounded like it would play to many of her strengths. But, Jenny decided that didn’t want to go through the entire interview process  only to accept  a job that still might not be a great fit.

This realization meant that Jenny had to get hired for who she was, not someone she thought she “should be” during the interview process.

She began working with Lisa Lewis, a coach on our team, to practice interviewing authentically. It was important for Jenny to show potential employers exactly who she really was as a person AND cause them to want her even more. With Lisa’s encouragement, Jenny finally gained the confidence that highlighting her true personality and values during interviews would be more effective than trying to present herself as an ideal, but not fully “real”, candidate.

Jenny ended up getting the job offer.

It wasn’t a perfect offer though.


Most people don’t realize that it’s not just about having the perfect negotiation conversation and “saying the right things” at the right time to get the offer you really want.

Instead, it was all of the work Jenny had done clarifying what she truly wanted, building authentic relationships, and preparing for the interview in an honest way that enabled her to be in a prime position to ask for something quite a bit different than what the initial offer.

By the way: I’ve had many people tell me that when you work at a University there’s no room for negotiation or it’s “impossible” to get exceptions made for you. We’ve found that’s not the case–instead those people just don’t know how to do it any differently and end up accepting that reality for themselves.

As you know, Jenny didn’t accept their offer at face value. Even though it was outside her comfort zone, she  pushed herself to have multiple conversations to ensure she was getting what was most important to her. Again, she was amazed at how right HTYC turned out to be: asking for what you want and need can lead to actually getting it!

In the end, Jenny happily accepted a revised offer with greater flexibility in the schedule,increased compensation, and a start date delayed by 2 months to allow a smooth transition from her previous job and also a very important family vacation overseas!

After what was nearly a 3 year journey, Jenny had some advice for you if you’re getting ready to make a career change:

Trust your own instincts on what feels like a good fit for you and try not to stay too attached to that investment and identity that doesn’t feel like a good fit any longer. People do change and evolve and I keep reminding myself that new phases of our identities is what keeps life interesting.We can make a bigger difference in the world for the better if we allow those changes to happen rather than fighting them.

Jenny 00:02
Even as a graduate student, researcher, and teaching assistant I had a lot of challenges, sort of, prioritizing when do I grade papers and meet with students who are struggling versus when do I pursue my own research and write proposals and papers. And so, my conclusion after, sort of, testing it out as a graduate student was, I’m not sure I could do this full-time as a professor for the rest of my career.

Introduction 00:30
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're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:54
This is Scott Anthony Barlow, and you are listening to Happen To Your Career, the show that helps you figure out what work fits you by exploring other stories, we get to bring on experts like Lisa Lewis, who teaches people how to reframe their future, and set goals attainable, especially in this new year. And people who have pretty amazing stories, like Adarsh Pandit, who left academia, develop scientific approach to his career change and found a job that fits his lifestyle. Now, these are people that are just like you, they've gone from where they are, to what they really want to be doing. And today's guest is Jenny, who we got the opportunity to tag along for her journey over the last 18 months and help her actually make a change. And this is so much fun to have this conversation with her now.

Jenny 01:42
It's been on my New Year's wish list, I think, for about three years to find a new job. But it has taken a while. And I’ll be transitioning into a role, helping develop a science and sustainability program at a University near where I live. I have currently a science background, but I had been looking for opportunities to do more than science or other roles in addition to science. So this job sounds like an incredible blend of different things. And I'm really curious about it and excited to get started.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:23
In this conversation with Jenny, we get pretty deep into how to stop doing what you should do, I'm using air quotes. And you know, what I should want in my current job or what other people want me to have, so I should stick with it. You don't have to be bound by those shoulds. And also how to let go of your current identity. Because if it's completely wrapped up in what you do right now, that can stop you from finding something that is going to make your heart happy. And how to let go of other people's expectations on your life more of those shoulds. But this it really impacted Jenny and take a listen for how much this impacted her. Because she's somebody who's pretty talented, she's high achieving, she went to a really reputable school. She's done a lot in her life, but still, a lot of this identity was wrapped up. And she was allowing what other people think, impact her happiness.

Jenny 03:26
Well, I had a pretty typical past as a scientist with a few added extras on the side. I did a... and I’d love to talk more about the extras because I think it is significant but my, sort of basic biography as I did an undergraduate degree in Biology, then I took a few years and I actually taught a preschool Science program, but then went to graduate school for more Science, again, Biology, Ecology, Conservation. And I got a PhD in that field and did a lot of outdoor research on mountain forest ecosystems and fire with many of the aspects of those topics and the process of research I really love. After finishing my PhD, I worked both in the education realm for a while and as a field biologist. I had a series of part-time jobs teaching college Biology which, those were some great adventures and learning experiences. But I did always know... or I realized about half way through graduate school that I didn’t want the traditional career of an academic professor. My dad actually, is an academic professor and my grandfather was, and several family members. So I’d seen lots of examples of that career path and I had been intrigued and thinking, it’s sort of, in my genes and in my environment, but the more I learned and experienced from the inside, as a grad student, the more I thought, I'm not sure this would be the perfect fit for me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:16
What caused you to think that? What are some of the elements or some of the events that, you realized, "hey, this isn’t for me for these reasons."?

Jenny 05:27
Well, I think it's an incredibly challenging and rewarding profession but it's sort of 24/7. I had seen this with my dad. He was doing his own research and writing, he was advising graduate students, he was teaching undergrads and our whole family life was filled with overflow and participation in his academic life. One of the thing my dad studied is Charles Darwin. And my sisters and I grew up just actually thinking of Charles Darwin as a really bad guy, who sort of, took my dad away from the family a lot. And we sort of visualized him as a, sort of, cartoon character villain.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:24
Charles Darwin the villain.

Jenny 06:25
In college I started realizing that actually he was the opposite of a villain, he's a... many scientists hero. I secretly took my own classes in evolutionary biology and history and philosophy of science and realized that Darwin is not a villain. That, any academic study can really take over someone's life and career. And so...

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:50
So he played the villain in your early movie.

Jenny 06:53
He was the reason dad could not, sometimes come to sports days or picnics, things like that. Some of the graduate students became, sort of, there were this, sort of, cast of characters, some of them were really funny and friendly and role models for us, but it was certainly a big deal to be a professor. When I was studying with my own advisor in the different field of biology, I realized he was working around the clock. His family sometimes would come out to the research sites with us and joke that that was how they got to see him. A lot of people juggle everything very successfully including my dad and my advisor but I felt like I wasn’t sure I had the energy or the commitment to a particular research field with the degree of passion that, at least, these two had. I’m, sort of, a generalist. I'm interested in lots of things but I didn’t want to single-mindedly pursue one research track. And I also found teaching to be really demanding. I felt this very strong sense of obligation to all the students in the classes that I taught. So I would... even as a graduate student, researcher, and teaching assistant I had a lot of challenges, sort of, prioritizing when do I grade papers and meet with students who are struggling versus when do I pursue my own research and write proposals and papers. And so, my conclusion after, sort of, testing it out as a graduate student was, I’m not sure I could do this full-time as a professor for the rest of my career.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:40
I see. So this really didn’t line up with your lifestyle, at all. It sounds... oop, your lifestyle that you desire at all that... from the very beginning, and you had multiple examples of this over and over again. So I’m super curious then, what took place after that? After you tested that out and realized, "Not for me." Really great for some people that are very very much more into it but, as you said, you're much more of a generalist. And if I recall, you identify as what Emilie Wapnick back in episode 173 calls a multipotentialite, is that right?

Jenny 09:20
Yes. The problem also with my science studies was that I just could not help adding other topics and roles on the side. In the grand scheme of things, I think that type of approach is valuable to cover many disciplines or have a broader scope, but I think in the world of science, it's more typical to be a specialist and it's seen as more focused and more productive and contributes more to the individual field. My advisor was often questioning me, "why are you working on the campus writing center with all these English majors?" And I find...

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:09
What's your problem?

Jenny 10:10
And yeah, intriguing and enlightening. Why do you have so many side jobs? I think it's detracting from your forward progress. I’d say, well, it's sort of keeping me engaged and I love interacting across the whole campus and... so, we had a little back and forth. But I think, to answer your question, my next step was to say to myself, "alright. I’m going to try and find a more pure research job or pure teaching job and sort of see how those feel when I can separate the components of research and education." That worked out and I learned a lot through those comparisons. I learned that I didn’t love teaching a lot of content, a lot of information, again, maybe because of my generalist type of approach. I love teaching classes and the process of science, and I still do. Encouraging kids, or students of all ages to sort of come up with their own questions and hypotheses and investigations. I had several college teaching jobs that did this and those were really rewarding because I could see the spark of excitement and discovery in the students and how energized they were to figure out, "I can do science. I do science every day. Now I'm gonna learn to do it systematically and it'll let me find out new things and solve problems."

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:48
I’m curious, what do you think was the difference for you after all of this and making the transition and having lots of these experiments along the way? What do you think was the difference for you in terms of teaching focus on process versus teaching focus on specific information and what caused you to resonate so much with that? Because I’m guessing part of the reason that they would light up was because your involvement with that as well.

Jenny 12:24
I think I really do love, and I’ve learned this through listening to a lot of the HTYC podcast and other things. I do love guiding and mentoring, facilitating. That is always part of good teaching, I think, but definitely in science's course too, there is this emphasis on transferring information and facts. I feel like that involves a lot of memorizing and different skills than sort of the process skills. I’m not sure why, maybe I just don’t have as strong memory as some people do. But when I was teaching those classes I would sort of barely memorize all the different types of plant tissue or something, myself. I'd memorize them like, right before I got to teach the students and then I try to get the students to remember them using the same techniques that I had just learned. And I was sort of, I know it's really important to absorb the basic facts and information in any field but sometimes I would feel like we were overloading the facts and the memorizing and I would prefer the emphasis on the process of investigation and discovery and sort of went toward that side of the spectrum.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:51
That is so interesting. That even when you were teaching those types of information like, all the time on the podcast, we talked about what you can’t stop doing and what shows up everywhere. And even when you are doing those information type classes, you are still, "Hey, here's how I taught myself to remember this. Here's still the process." That is interesting.

Jenny 14:12
Yeah, I mean, I did... one of my most stressful experiences was teaching plant biology. I ended up trying to have the students do all these experiments like, let’s learn what plants need by growing a bunch of plants under different conditions rather than just telling them, "Here are the 39 things, nutrients and conditions, that plants need." We did all these experiments and now I’m thinking about it, a lot of this maybe goes back to this really fun interlude that I had in college, and after college when I was a preschool teacher and I realized that kids just want to investigate everything all the time. As we both know, we have little kids and they're just the world's best investigators and scientists and engineers. So that's how I had operated in preschool and that was encouraged in pre-school. It was a philosophy that I learned at that time called "Emergent Curriculum", it was about letting the kids sort of drive the agenda and learning process rather than having them put together, sort of, prepackaged arts and crafts activities led by the teacher. I hadn’t realized that but this has been kind of a theme through a lot of my work. Maybe I was lucky to have that formative job experience early on. And I really... it really clicked with me and I clicked with it. And I feel like there's the most genuine learning when the learner is sort of driving the pace and the process of the learning and it's not necessarily all about memorizing the facts.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:03
That is super interesting and I wanna actually come back to that and touch on that a little bit later too, because I’m curious, how much that helped you in this actual career change too. But before we get into that and before we dive into that part, I’m really interested in how you began to feel after you got into your most recent type of research and what was it there that caused you to start to think, "Hey, maybe I should be actively pursuing something else."

Jenny 16:38
Yeah, it's definitely connected to this theme and I thought about this a lot. I think I went into science and research for two reasons. One is I genuinely love this process of investigation and discovery and I really love the process of problem solving with science, both just in the simple cases of kids figuring out answers to their own questions or in my field, it's been tackling the problems of sustainable resource management like forest management, water management, wildlife management. Using science to help the resource managers identify the most effective strategies and least effective strategies. So I was, was and still am really enthusiastic about that part. I think the second reason why I stayed in Science and research was sort of to live up to the expectations of everybody who had guided me along the way and helped me pursue this track.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:48
What's an example of that?

Jenny 17:49
I didn’t want to let down my family, which is full of scientists and academics, my advisor, my professors, my peers, other women in science, particularly, I felt like I needed to sort of, yeah, live up to the expectations, sort of, fulfill the investment that I and they have made in this research track. But what began to shift for me was that, first I realized that when I was working with manager, partners who had problems to solve, it wasn't sort of purely this scientific data that they needed in doing their job. It was also connections with scientists, relationships with scientists, input from scientists that was more than just numbers. The whole situation was much more complicated than it seems from the outside, you know, I had sort of... before I took the job that I have now with a federal research agency, I had thought, oh there are these problems in the world of environmental resource management. And scientists will come to the table with the managers then will go off and design experiments to help address the problems and then, a couple years later, we'll bring the results back to that same table and hand them over and then we'll go away again, and the managers will be able to take the results and implement them and everything will get better and the problems will be solved.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:30
Whoa, it doesn’t work like that? You are killing my utopian bubble.

Jenny 19:39
It's still worth striving for that sort of effective, clean model of how the world works but I feel that I was naive looking back to think it would be that simple. The good news is that even though it's complicated and even though the relationships and the people dynamics and the politics are really highly involved, that's sort of part of the, I guess, positive side in one sense. I think... and I’ve seen that by developing these strong relationships, scientists and managers can solve or address even very tricky problems by working together. However, the huge insight for me was that, in my science role, at my home agency, I was definitely not rewarded in the metrics of contributing to complex problem solving efforts. I’m rewarded for the number of scientific papers I publish in scientific journals on scientific results. And so, the more I got involved in the people side of the equation and the relationships and collaboration, the less time I was investing in completing and writing up and publishing results. And of course, the more complex the problem, the harder it is to get clean publishable scientific papers out of it. I was kind of getting.... against the checklist of performance that I'm evaluated by, I was not doing the things that were expected from my position and I was finding meaning in what I was doing but I was also wishing that I could have a role in which part of the purpose or point was to invest in the relationships and collaborations and it wasn’t seen as a distraction or delay.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:53
So you're doing all these things that you are starting to get meaning out of and feel good about and you're getting small snippets of those as you realize, "Hey. I actually really enjoy these pieces of it." You also had the same sinking realization that sounds like that, the organization you are with doesn’t value those pieces. Now, even removing right or wrong, I mean every organization values different things and different elements, and it sounds like that didn't line up very clearly, and became painfully clear, with where you were at. What prompted you to do something about that? What took place? Do you decide, "Hey, I actually need to... I need to act on this."

Jenny 22:46
Well, there was kind of this dawning realization that every year during the annual performance review discussions, I was being questioned rightfully about the time that I was spending in meetings and collaborative workshops and the investment that I was making and the people's side of the scientific problem. That was a little awkward. But I think that as kind of silly or different, as it sounds, I had a more personal epiphany related to a book that somebody else mentioned on the podcast recently. Totally different. It was this, decluttering your life type of book by Marie Kondo called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I read this book and it's very... it's quite practical, and it's really insightful and philosophical in many ways. And I think I probably read it a few years ago, I think right after the holidays and with our young kids, our house was just full of toys and stuff and I was thinking, it's time to get organized, it's the New Year. But this author's approach is to guide people more broadly to really question everything in their life including, spouses, careers, any element and ask, “what about these different elements is meaningful to me and what isn’t.” And to try and focus on keeping the things that are meaningful and bring you joy and satisfaction and sort of let go, thankfully let go of the things that don’t fit or bring you meaning. And so this could be everything from the outgrown barbie dolls lying on our floor in our playroom to sort of bigger things. But the thing that really struck me was that, when I looked at all the books in our house, and in particular mind, I had this insight that if I was in charge, I would gratefully say goodbye to a lot of the science books that people have given me over the years. I’ve always accepted the books and been appreciative but I never felt compelled to read any of the science books. And I almost feel strange about admitting this. But my husband would read them, friends would read them, my dad would read them. And I just was never compelled to read them on the weekends and evenings because I did science 40+ hours a week. I always felt like that must... so I had this feeling, I don’t think I’m a proper scientist. What is wrong with me that I would want to give my science books away? And that really started me questioning the big picture of my future career.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:04
Hold on. One thing you said though, I think is very much a human tendency and I think it is something that almost all of us, maybe not all of us, but a lot of us experience where we go through something like that and then we start to question, what is wrong with me? It’s nothing wrong with you, in your particular situation, then there's nothing wrong with the next person so much. But that is so interesting that, we as smart, capable human beings will... we will question what, well, I must be broken. And it's truly not the case and definitely wasn't in your situation too. So I just wanted to acknowledge that because I know that you haven’t stayed there. What happened next after the realization and you realized, "Hey. There's all these books that are sitting on my shelf. I don’t want these" and you started to feel, sounds like, awkward at a minimum about that and questioned even yourself. What was next?

Jenny 27:04
Well, a lot of... sort of, self questioning, I guess, and worrying and wondering what to do. I mean, around the same time, I had started volunteering at my kids school to lead science activities and I was finding that really really fun and rewarding. And it was taking me back to the days of working at the pre-school with these amazing little science investigators. I was starting to think I love this process of sharing science, fostering science even though I’m not, maybe, a specialist and a die-hard 24/7 scientist... or sort of more classic scientist, myself. Maybe I should look at roles that where I could go back to teaching or facilitating science in some way, not just with kids but with non-scientists or people who'd like to learn more about science or get a little flavor of science, I think... I really think I’m good at, sort of, bridging the gap not assuming that everybody wants or needs to understand science or love it. But I think I started looking more closely at institutions and agencies and organizations that are sort of in between the worlds of science and education and real life. A couple of job ads started to catch my eye in that arena of science education. And so I put out, I think Scott, the first time I contacted you I was responding to an ad for an informal science education position that I was really excited about.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:05
Oh, yeah. I remember that.

Jenny 29:10
At the same time I didn’t want to sort of blow my cover. I didn't want to do... I wasn’t ready to do what I would think of now as a full job search where I would tap into my big network of connections and do a lot of informational interviews and start getting a sense of what's out there that involves science but isn't pure science. So I still haven’t really done that. And I think one of the challenges that maybe will resonate with other people is that, I couldn't let go of the sense that I should want my pure science job. It's a great job, it's really secure and well respected. I’ve talked with many people over the years who would absolutely love to have the job that I have. And I kept thinking, people will think that I’m crazy if I start asking around widely about alternative career paths.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:18
So let's dig into that for just a second. Because I do think that that is a... that is something that we hear all the time behind the scenes and emails that we get, and people that we talk to, conversations that we have every day especially for professions like scientists, like academic professors in other cases, doctors, lawyers, yeah. And particularly, people that are high up in different organizations too, I am a Senior Director of this, or VP of that, or CEO of this. You know, we hear that again and again and again, because we've wrapped ourselves into that world, and we built that world around it. But I'm curious, let's go into that. So what was that like for you? And how did you start unraveling that?

Jenny 31:08
Well, I think one of the insights I had again was from something of a popular psychology type book, about how there are some people in the world, and I realized that I can acknowledge that I am one of them, who are unusually highly tuned into other people's expectations. I know a lot of podcast guests have alluded to this and it's helpful. I think that the particular book or sort of, I don't know, framework that I found helpful is by Gretchen Rubin, writer who studies happiness and habits and recently published a book called "The Four Tendencies" about how people respond to external and internal expectations. And I’ve always sort of envied people who are very tuned into their own internal compass and expectations and goals. My tendency has always been to try and do what other people expect or I think is reasonable and I think somehow I had to... was very comforting to me to read more about the fact that there are more people than me in the world that share this I guess, orientation. You don’t have to beat yourself up and think that you're weird or weak willed, etc. You can try to say, given that I now recognize I follow a lot of others' expectations to the point of having a lot of credentials and experience in an arena that maybe other people expected me to follow or to be a good fit. Given that, I can still take a step back and say, "Now I realize that isn’t the best long term fit and now I want to gently disentangle from some of those external expectations and start discovering what my own internal drive is telling me." I went through this self-questioning and self-analysis process and it was significantly helped by all the material that I absorbed from the HTYC podcast, and blog, and some of the courses and exercises that you, guys, provided, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:50
You’ve been through quite a few things with us, you’ve been through career change bootcamp, and you've done coaching, and you've been a listener for a long time on the podcast. You’ve been everywhere.

Jenny 33:59
Well I think that... one of my insights was, it's really okay to ask for help, get help and support and invest in help and support. It's a big deal to make a big transition. The thing I think was the hugest roadblock for me, mentally, and maybe for others was this feeling of lack of confidence. First of all, how could I have such... how could I have invested so many years in a career path that might not be a good fit? Why didn’t I realize this sooner? And then having a lack of confidence of not performing perfectly in my job that isn’t a good fit, and I think you or others said, "Well, it makes some sense that we wouldn’t performing at our best at a job that we recognized isn't a great fit." But something about that daily undermining of confidence like, I'm not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I'm not good at the things I’m supposed to be good at, that sort of, drains confidence and so it was really hard... it was really hard for me to kind of get over that confidence barrier and have that energy and positive confidence to apply for better fit jobs. I think HTYC and other support people and resources were really essential for me to kind of build up confidence that had been draining away and kind of get that energy and positivity back to start making new applications. I certainly had a few ups and downs with that. Some interviews and applications that didn’t go very well.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:55
Share how long you’ve been working on this. I think it'll be helpful to people. How long have you been working on this journey in order to make this transition?

Jenny 36:03
I think about three full... three and a half full years since my very first job application which was in a, I don't know if I even I’ve talked to you much about that one, but it was for a science focus role with a national nonprofit conservation organization, which I think does amazing work and I really respect and admire. But because it was sort of a blend of science and other roles, I did the interview for that job kind of wearing my science hat, and I was really thrown off because the interview and application process was a lot broader than I had realized. And I may not have... by this story before that there was this moment that I occasionally have nightmares about, during a big final interview with a big panel of people. They suddenly switched from asking science-ish questions to asking me what I was passionate about. And I completely froze up. Now I know that that's not such an unusual job interview question. But at that time, it was the first time I'd ever heard it. In the world of all the science interviews, I'd never done that. Had never never come up. And as you know, I’m also from England where people don’t tend to talk freely about passion very much. I started stammering and joking about how scientists really weren't supposed to talk about passion nor were English people typically. And I said that the only thing I could admit to being passionate about was good coffee. And maybe you can relate to that but the interview panel wasn’t very amused by that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:09
They weren't buying it.

Jenny 38:09
No. I just floundered horribly and finally said a few things that weren’t related to coffee and recovered a little but I realized after that interview, that I really needed to work more broadly on my skills and my presentation, and my applications. This wasn’t something that I would just be able to kind of wing it and succeed at in making a big transition. I’ve really benefited from all the resources and guidance that I’ve found with your team and others and feel like I should encourage people like you always have, to not try to go it alone. And try to reach out for help and resources, if needed. I realize that interviews can be handled much better with lots and lots of practice and I also really loved the episode long ago in the podcast where you interviewed a scientist with a PhD in biochemistry, Adarsh Pandit and he mentioned he had done like 30 interviews while trying to figure out his transition from a science and research role into another arena. And that made me feel a lot better, you know it really does take practice, it's not gonna happen spontaneously and organically.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:48
I think, I wasn’t around for that particular time frame when you went through that interview that now, still occasionally gives you nightmares but I think that had to happen in order to allow the other events that followed it. Otherwise, you may not have had all the realizations that you've had, and you may not have conducted all the experiments that you conducted in that took place after that and not in the way. So, I wouldn’t wish the nightmares on anybody but I would absolutely wish that type of event that caused you to think about some of these things differently. And I think many people need that type of wake up. You don’t have to but a lot of times, it does takes place before we begin to take different types of action and before we begin to reach out and ask for help and before we begin to realize that, "hey, this is the bigger deal and if I really want this, then, here's how I have to go." We’ve been in contact, I wanna say for a little over 18 months, give or take. And I just got to say that I’ve been so impressed with, particularly, how you have stepped through this. Because... first of all, let’s just think about what you've done here, you’ve been immersed every single day in a situation where essentially, some of the things that you are the best at and some of the things that really do make you happy, and some of the types of activities and the way you engaged with people aren’t rewarded for the most part in your environment. What, I think, most people don’t realize when they're in that, is the realization that you had, that it was chipping away at your confidence. When it does something that is continually chipping away at your confidence every single day, then taking and having the wherewithal to recognize that and reach out for help is, honestly, half the battle. Because, that is something most people will not do. And then, you went above and beyond that and even though it's been super uncomfortable for you, because you thought about yourself as a scientist and you have all of these other people expectations in mind, you've continually progressed closer and closer to the point where now you have this role, that is going to leverage the fun things or the things that you look at as fun and also some of the things that you have and be great about and at the same time, not so coincidentally, leverage those the experiences that you have. And I think that, that is so cool, it is not easy. And it's taken a long time for you to be able to make that journey but most people will never start or most people will stay on that same path and never get the help, never recognize that it's chipping away their confidence, never have the commitment to be able to do something about it. So I am super proud of you and I'm so appreciative that you've allowed us to be right there and help along the way.

Jenny 42:59
Thanks. Yeah, I really appreciate it and I think the experiences I’ve had hopefully are shared by others. It doesn’t have to be science that forms your identity. And I’ve taken, I would say, I've taken steps to kind of broaden that identity. I haven’t completely let it go. My new role will certainly... I realized it was important for me to find a role in which that training and experience will be an asset. But I’m thrilled that I'll be able to use my people skills, my relationship building skills, my guiding and mentoring and discovering and problem solving skills and I don’t think I would have clarified those as fully without all this great help along the way. So, thanks again. Yeah, it's been really a fun process of discovery.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:02
Fun mixed in with some challenges along the way to say the least. I’m super curious, before we go, for other people that are in the shoes that you were in, 18 plus months ago, where they have the realization that it's not what I want to be doing forever. They are looking at the type of the change that they want to make or maybe even feel like they need to make, in order to get where they want to go and it's a big change because what you have done is a huge change, I would say. What advice would you give people that are in that place?

Jenny 44:46
Good question. I guess to try and sum it up it would be to trust your own instincts about what feels like a good fit for you and try not to stay too attached on that investment and identity that doesn’t feel like a good fit any longer. I think people do change and evolve and I keep to remind myself that, "new phases of our identities is what keeps life interesting and we can make a bigger difference in the world for the better if we allow those changes to happen rather than fighting them." It’s helped me to have a few sort of mantras about... or prepared answers to people's questions about why I might make this move. I think those will be different for everybody but it helps me to kind of practice them. Science is a great fit for many people and I love science but I think a better fit for me will be facilitating science with other partners, etc. I also think that it is daunting to look at one's whole life being sort of reorganized by a new career choice but I love how your process and others emphasize that it's kind of a holistic process of change and it shouldn’t be scary. It can definitely be positive and exciting. I also wanted to just quickly mention, it turned out that I had a friend in my neighborhood all along, who gave me great insights and confidence close to the end of my journey. And she sort of complimented your approach, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 46:53
Very cool.

Jenny 46:55
She sort of had this perspective of telling me what she thought my strengths were, sort of in everyday life. And I know you emphasize that in the bootcamp like, have your friends and family to list your strengths. I found that really tough. It happened organically through some conversations with a friend who's starting a career coaching business called Career Five. She just was able to chat with me about strengths and say, "Yes. This is what I’ve seen you do in the neighborhood, school or birthday parties. This is what I think you're great at." I would say to others like, try and take those sources of information and confidence sort of wherever they show up and everything is relevant and keep the faith and keep your spirits up through adding everything into your week that you can, that helps boosts that confidence and reminds you of all the things outside your, not good fit job, that make you... that give you happiness, confidence, and rewards.

Scott Anthony Barlow 48:11
Very cool. I so appreciate you making the time. This has been a phenomenal conversation. There are actually so many other questions that I wanted to ask but we haven't even got to dive into. But some huge takeaways for me and how to think about yourself differently and how to move through a big change like this, particularly, when you’ve steep yourself in one type of perception about how you and your life looks and I think you’ve done such a phenomenal job with that. So I so appreciate you making the time, Jenny.

Jenny 48:52
Thank you so much. It's a pleasure.

Scott Anthony Barlow 48:55
Hey, if you're ready to create and begin to live a life that really truly is unapologetically you, I would absolutely urge you to check out our career change bootcamp program. We have, for the first time, just open career change bootcamp 2.0. And you can find that on our website happentoyourcareer.com click on career change bootcamp, or drop us an email support@happentoyourcareer.com. And we'll be able to point you in the right direction to learn more about how you can learn what you really want and be able to make it happen. Hey, I really appreciate all of you going over to Stitcher and iTunes and all kinds of places where podcasts are played and leaving us ratings and reviews. This helps so many other people find the show and we just... it means the world to us. And as it turns out, helps other people, not just find the show, but get to work that they love which is kind of what we do around here, anyhow, really appreciate. This one from Lauren PNDC, it says "This podcast is a lifeline as I tolerate a job that pays well believes me lackluster, and I found it by googling, should I quit or fear of taking risk, it's revitalizing my vision for meaningful work and finding the tribe I feel connected to. so grateful for this high quality content." Thanks so much, Lauren. Really appreciate you leaving that. We have much more in store for you coming up next week right here on Happen To Your Career. We have even another person and I think you're going to absolutely love this one, who allowed us to tag along for the ride. And she made such an amazing change, I think you'd be blown away. And so much of this next episode, I think you'd be able to incorporate into your life. So take a listen for what we've got coming in store.

Laura Morrison 50:48
And so for a while, that felt like a good fit, and it felt like something I could be passionate about. And then over time, it just wasn't anymore. But again, I was in the same position that I had had kind of in college and beyond where I didn't know what else to do. And so I just kind of stuck with it, kind of only half thinking about what else I could be doing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 51:10
Alright, all that and plenty more right here on Happen To Your Career, next week. Until then, I am out. Adios.

Scott Anthony Barlow 51:23
Cue the bloopers. That means record just in case you hadn't figured it out. This is Scott Anthony Barlow (so unprofessional) uh, yeah, I got this. Deep breath. Like I'm at the yoga class or something. Sorry, Josh. I'm like really mixed up here. Okay.

Joshua Rivers 51:45
Not a problem. It's called a blooper reel.

Scott Anthony Barlow 51:49
Yeah. Oh, my goodness. That's ridiculous. Like I've never done this before. Oh, my goodness. My voice sounds so flat.

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