Who are you beyond your job?

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Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 57 we spoke to the amazing Shannah Kennedy, one of Australia’s leading strategic life coaches and co-founder of Human Elevation. 

Shannah has consistently been ranked Australia’s top 10 business coaches, with over 15 years of experience in executive strategy, transition, values, vision and life planning.

As the co-founder of Human Elevation, Shannah’s mission is clear: to elevate humans. Through leadership courses, she teaches participants how to gain control of their lives and create new blueprints for success.

In this chat we spoke about how life is a marathon, how to set boundaries and what to prioritise in life. 

Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Shannah Kennedy on YouTubeSpotifyListen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.

Authored by Shannah Kennedy, one of Australia’s leading strategic life coaches and co-founder of Human Elevation.

What would happen if your job or business was taken away from you today? What would you do tomorrow? Losing a job can be a terrifying prospect if you let your job define your whole life. Your job is what you do, not who you are. Your first priority should always be yourself. When you take care of yourself first, you can show up to work as the best possible version of yourself, with a full tank of energy and a clear purpose, and be able to face any adversity head-on.

Where do you start? Imagine yourself in ten years, and think about where you want to be and the kind of person you want to be. You’ll be in a very different stage and season of life. It’s not enough to make career goals; you should start making a life plan. Life plans are about finding your true purpose, which will help you navigate any challenges that will eventually come your way. Let’s explore what it means to find your real purpose, outside of your job, and lay the foundations for a better life and career.

Life is a marathon
Like a marathon, life is made up of many stages, each with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Each decade of our lives is a different chapter, and it’s up to us to decide what’s most important in each one. Creating a life plan can come in handy for this. A life plan isn’t just about setting goals. It also helps you prioritise and balance so you can be the best version of yourself, both mentally and physically, to keep up with the marathon.

By listing out your priorities for each decade, you can make sure that you’re making the most of your time and energy. Career, for example, is important, but we need to make sure that we’re not sacrificing our future health and well-being in the process. If you let your work consume you, you risk becoming the hamster on a wheel. And if that job were to be taken away, what would be left? Ask yourself whether you want to be married to your job or make sure you do a great job but also show up to your kids’ sporting events. In the end, no one will remember us for our job title or our accomplishments at work. What matters is our impact on the people around us and the legacy we leave behind.

Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are all critical to our overall happiness and success. Get up every day to serve those four buckets of health, and you’ll show up as the best possible version of yourself in all aspects of your life – as a spouse, a parent, a friend, and a business owner.

Lay the foundations
There are three important parts to understanding who we are and being the best version of ourselves. The first part is self-awareness, which involves knowing what’s important specifically to you. The second part is self-leadership, where you have a clear understanding of where you’re going. Last is self-management, where you know how to manage yourself along the way.

Self-awareness is the foundation. It involves identifying your three most important personal values. You can use a process of elimination to determine what values are most important to you and your personality. Whether it’s economic security, creativity, adventure, or autonomy, everyone’s top three values will be different. These values are your lighthouse and making decisions becomes easier once you know them.

Set boundaries
Your values are your boss who you report to every day. With every decision, ask yourself whether it will add to or detract from your values. This will allow you, guilt-free, to say the gracious ‘no’. Setting boundaries becomes easier once you know your values and are committed to protecting them.

Personally, I used to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and would often say yes to things that jeopardised my well-being one way or another. Now I embrace JOMO (joy of missing out) and have no problem saying no to events or activities that don’t align with my values or would negatively impact my energy levels.

You can still pursue your career with passion and commitment, but it’s essential to have healthy boundaries in place. Athletes need to take time to recover after training to perform at their best the next day, and the same is true for us. Part of having good health and well-being is recovery and rest. We should set boundaries and value recovery if we want to perform at our best.

Fix your inner critic
When you were just three years old, do you remember standing in front of a mirror and seeing a happy person staring back at you? You might have pulled faces, danced, and enjoyed staring at yourself. But as we grow older, we start to lose touch with that inner child and let others shape our beliefs and opinions.

It’s time to take back control and empower ourselves. The first step is to go to the mirror every day and reconnect with the person we once loved unconditionally. Ask yourself, “How are you? What do you need right now?”. It could be a high-five, permission to stop or take a pause or to just keep going. By quietening your inner critic and building a new relationship with yourself, you can start to see the world from a new perspective. This means you also approach your business with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose.

It’s a natural instinct to want to fix things right away when we encounter a problem. However, just like when a little child comes home from school upset, we need to give ourselves a hug and some self-compassion before coming up with a strategy to tackle the issue at hand.

Imagine if we taught a three-year-old that the only way to success is through self-criticism and sabotage. It would be devastating. Yet, many of us still hold onto these destructive and untrue beliefs. Let’s unlearn the destructive beliefs that hold us back and work towards being a healthier version of ourselves.

Start planning
Creating a life plan might sound daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. Our brains are lazy and crave structure. Start by writing down the years, along with the ages of yourself and your loved ones for these years. Then start listing your bucket list items and where you want to be financially for each year. Use reverse engineering to determine the milestones you need to hit to achieve your long-term goals.

Then you have to bring it to life with goals and habits. Lastly, make it visual. Create vision boards, mood boards, and inspiring quotes and make them visible everywhere in your everyday life. Taking care of ourselves is just like drinking water – we all know that drinking two litres of water a day is good for us, but it’s hard to make it a habit. That’s why we need to create visual reminders to make it easier for ourselves. Sticky notes can be our best friend, prompting us to do the things that are important to us every day.

By having a plan in place, you’ll feel less stressed and more present in the moment. It gives you a wider perspective so that you’re better equipped to navigate change when it inevitably comes your way. When curveballs get thrown at you, at least you always have your plan to fall back on. We can’t always control the things that happen to us, but what we can control is how we react to them.

By investing in yourself and cultivating a sense of purpose and fulfilment beyond your job, you’ll be much better equipped to weather any storm. Happiness doesn’t depend on validation or material things, but on the relationship we have with ourselves. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Let’s treat ourselves with love, and commit to doing the necessary work to become the best version of ourselves, and then ask yourself, if your job was suddenly taken away, what would you do tomorrow?