The first 100 days in my new role – mommy to be

When you take over a managerial role, there is this magic rule: the first 100 are a crucial point for evaluating your performance so far and help make a prognosis for future success.

Well, in my case things are a bit different. A couple of months back, I realized that I had enough from that corporate world: The always-on, non-stop performing mentality. The seemingly impossible chance to take decisions within that machine that will not be overthrown by three or more hierarchical layers up. Although I loved the five years I worked for this company and learned so much that I am so grateful for, I realized that somehow this environment did not fit any longer.

It was time to take the first steps into a new chapter in my life. During Corona lock-down, I experimented with other forms of work, collaborating with people within my network. Together we created great products in leadership development and wrote a book. I felt energized and ready to start a new career.

Private blind spots

In my corporate managerial role, I learned to be rather quiet about personal topics especially when it comes to having a family. Over time, I got used to brush off questions into this direction with empty statements like “this is not for me”, “I have no plans in this direction”…

During lock-down, with some help of my coach, I slowly came to realize that I was not only lying to anyone who asked me this question, but I was also lying to myself. The truth was, that the future I envision for myself has kids in it. A family that lives together enjoying life to the fullest. There was this side in me that dreamed about having a family while the rest of me was still struggling to survive all expectations thrown at me in my corporate environment. My wish of being a mom, enjoying my life with kids, was buried under the fear of risking my career, the reputation I had built up, everything that I had worked for. I was afraid to lose my financial independence and derail from any future job perspectives.

It felt like a parallel-world: On one side, my newly career ambitions where I was ready to take the risk of not knowing how it would turn out in the end.  On the other side, my vision of a family that comprised similar fears. For the professional track, I was ready and prepared to overcome those fears and take the risk of starting something new. On my private track, I lagged behind, still worrying about the same things.

Life is faster than I can handle

Although I did not feel prepared or ready, reaching clarity about my wish to start a family did the trick. Just like the weeks before, life was faster than I could grasp in fulfilling me every wish I have. (Read all about it here) The law of attraction seemed to work for me again.

It was shortly after I had told my closest colleague that I was about to leave the company that the next change hit me. I felt it, when I went for a run. I was out of breath but so much slower than ever before. I felt pain in my stomach and my back. It was only after four negative pregnancy test followed by an extensive wine tasting, that the test finally turned out to be positive. This one moment of staring at the sign “positive” comprised so many elements of emotions for me. Disbelieve. Being overwhelmed. Pure Joy. Gratitude. Hope.

Adjusting to the new situation

Since I found out about my pregnancy, I have been rather silent on here. Mainly because I was struggling to keep up with this small but huge change in my life and all physical side-effects of growing a baby inside you. I dealt with nausea, exhaustion. Every day was different. Most days were challenging to say the least.

Besides typical symptoms of a pregnancy, I carried some thoughts with me that I had formerly only known in my business life:-

  • I don’t want to ask for help, I want don’t want to burden anyone. But how the hell do I get home when I am too exhausted to drive 240km and am too afraid to ask a colleague for a ride?
  • I don’t want to be complicated. How can I be as flexible and good at my job as before when I need to run for the bathroom in-between a meeting?
  • How can I avoid unnecessary attention? I don’t want to be the center of attention.
  • How can I keep my performance level? How can I remain the same (so nobody notices a difference) when I am so f’***ng tired?
  • Will I be good enough as a mom? Will I do a good job? What about all my flaws? About me failing at the easiest things like managing a calendar? Will that have a negative effect on my baby?
  • Am I really ready for this? What if I am not? What about my career? What about my job? What’s going to happen to my body?

Differently to my previous life, there was no way out. I really really really wanted to have this baby. I deeply loved it from the fist moment. Hence, I had to learn. The difference was that this tiny baby of the size of a raspberry was such huge motivator and driver to break my behavioral patterns. I knew that I had to change some behaviors so that this baby could grow and be healthy.

I started to understand that this was a phase in my life where I would not be a top performer. Neither in my professional life nor in any physical activity. So far, everything I wanted to do, I had been able to do. It was just a matter of discipline. Stay longer at the office. Push through. Get out with the result I was aiming for. Now, my body said “No”. When my body shut down and everything I felt was exhaustion, when I was painfully tired, no coffee or energy drink would get me through. My body did not need to be pushed. It needed to rest in order to let the baby grow. I had to accept my limits. Therefore, I started to decline or postpone a meeting, when I was just too tired to focus or felt sick. I shortened my working time, focusing only on topics of highest priority. I handed over smaller projects accepting the fear that I would not be a key player in the department any longer.

I dared to ask my colleague to drive me to work (without mentioning the pregnancy) which meant extra effort for him. In that moment I was ashamed to ask him for help, I felt powerless and dependent. In hindsight, I think we enjoyed the drive together having a great discussion and getting to know each other better.

I struggled with accepting my physical limitations also when I did sports. For the most time in my first trimester, I was basically lying flat, not able to get out of bed for weeks.

Whenever there was a better day, when I felt able to do some sports, I was disappointed with myself. Nothing worked as before. Everything was twice as hard and took me double the time. After 20min or so, my body would give up. It was new for me not to push myself, but to stop when my body gave me the signal to do so and just give it a rest.

The physical changes were another thing that was hard for me. I had always taken care of my body, my physique and my appearance. Not being able to work out and in addition gaining weight and finally showing a small baby-bump, did make me feel like it was not my body any longer. My yoga teacher started giving me special instructions that were different from the rest of the class in order to be pregnancy safe. I struggled with the extra attention and being “the weak” one of the class.

To be honest: I still struggle with all of this. Therefore, I am happy that I have six more months to prepare and get ready. To catch up to reality and gain confidence in my new role.

My “performance” review

After 100 days of pregnancy, I am still learning. I am still struggling. Physically and mentally. At the same time I am a 100% determined to do everything within my power to give this baby the best life possible. From day one, this small human became priority °1. This makes it so much easier to continue learning and going through that change.

Part of this learning is to understand that this new chapter of my life is not about performance. It is not about pushing limits, going the extra mile, putting in more energy. It is about being, resting, and nursing your body and the baby. Listening to what your body needs. Giving up the need to be the best in order to be fully there. Finding power in not doing more but resting and regaining energy for that little human being growing inside you. It is about letting go former KPIs and success criteria. Shifting the paradigm from performance to being. It is about enjoying that beautiful miraculous thing that is happening in that very moment. Being present, experiencing and creating life.

This is worth any temporary struggle. Or, looking at it from a different perspective: isn’t this a wonderful opportunity to grow as a person? And isn’t going out of your comfort zone to reach a new level what change is all about?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

6 Tips how to stay motivated

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash

It is very common that people seek to change their lives significantly – and then they get stuck. This is true for about 70% of all people – once including me: I wanted to get into the shape of my life. Preferably before summer 😉 I’d make a plan, when to do sports and how much I’d eat resulting in x kilograms per week in calculated weight-loss.

As with many other behavioral changes, my plans did not work out. After a day or two I’d lose motivation, crave some sweets, felt too tired to work out, etc. I think you get the picture.

So, how do we actually manage to stay motivated? I collected 5 tips how to keep on track:

Be true to yourself to find your deepest motivation for starting a change. Also, be careful for whom you are changing. Is it to fulfill someone else’s expectation? Or is it about changing your life for the better – for your personal well-being or growth? A personal motivation is often much stronger than the wish to comply with someone else’s vision of you.

A deeply rooted inner motivation will help you find strengths when times get harder. Write down your purpose for change and/or visualize it. You can choose a mantra, a picture, a song or anything else that represents the purpose of your journey. Looking at this or listening to the music will get you re-connected to your vision and give you extra motivation when you need it.

Beginning of 2018 I wanted to live a more wholesome and healthy life. Having prioritized my work over everything else for years had led me feel exhausted and disconnected from myself. I focused on introducing a healthier lifestyle in order to live a healthy and happy life. At this point of time, I had no idea how big this change would become but this was my starting point.

The biggest visions need to start small. Otherwise, you will be thrown off by the huge amount of work ahead. Start with small habits. Make your bed in the morning, if you want to be more organized. Go for a walk of 10 min if you want to increase your fitness level.

The point is to introduce new habits that will automatically lead to other new habits in your life – step by step paying into this vision of yours. Make it as easy for you to succeed as possible.

The moment you successfully established this new routine, add another one e.g. creating your daily to do list after making your bed. Or doing 3 push-ups after you finished your walk.

Making small changes to your life will be much easier than changing all at once. It might feel too small from time to time. If this feeling occurs, look back to what has already changed since you started. You will be surprised how much has happened already.

Following my vision of living a more healthy and balanced life, I started with 2-3 workout sessions a week. The key was the definition of “workout”. For me it was “doing something that feels good for my body for 30 min”. It could mean 30 min running, 30 min stretching, 30 min walking, even 30 min sleeping, if this was, what my body needed. Therefore, it was pretty manageable to achieve my goals.

After a some months, I was more used to take the time to do something for my body. Hence, I increased the challenge. Now it was 30 min running or a high intensity workout. Again, this turned out to work well for me.

Some months later, I aimed for 3-4 workout sessions a week. Now 18 months later, this habit is not only a fixed part in my daily schedule but it also led to further beneficial habits like taking time to recharge, relax and develop a better understanding of my body.

Results don’t come over night. Physical, mental and behavioral changes take time. You need to be consistent to achieve sustainable change.

Our brain is programmed to blend out small changes to what it knows. This helps us deal with all the complexity around but hinders us to recognize small changes. Think of a mother whose child is growing. She will hardly notice the daily growth but when her friends come to visit, they will note how tall the child has gotten.

To become aware of what you already achieved, make sure to document your journey. Take a picture, make an entry in your journal or calendar – whatever helps you document and remember your progress. When you feel demotivated, look at the documentation and see for yourself how far you have already come, how often you already achieved what you wanted, how often you actually showed up.

I took pictures after every workout. I documented the exhausted, red and sweaty but happy face that tried to smile into the camera. I wrote down in my calendar whenever I had done something for my body. Once a month I took a picture of myself to see also physical changes. Only by putting the pictures of one month next to another, I could see how much I had already transformed.

Celebrate yourself and your achievements – also when you f***ed up. The moment you accomplished one of your targets, just celebrate yourself. Be it by telling others about it, printing out that picture, eating a great meal, having that glass of wine, getting a massage anything that aligns with your targets and makes you feel great. By celebrating your successes, you ingrain that positive feeling connected to your new habit. You will be more aware of it and look forward to your next celebration.

There are -naturally – times when you experience setbacks. Growth is not always constant or linear. It is okay to fail some time. Don’t lose faith if you fell back into old patterns once. Setbacks happen, but you are not going back to square one. Be kind to yourself. Smile at yourself. Next day you continue.

My celebration was taking the pictures. In addition, I celebrated my newly gained strength by doing sports with friends who had been too fast/strong for me before. Sharing my successes with my partner was another way for me to celebrate. Of course, there were times when I didn’t make it to my workouts. I learned not to see these targets as all or nothing. In the end, I was doing all of this for my own good. Therefore, starting over the next day was the logical consequence.

There is this nice slogan: Just do it. It is so simple but it is essential. Nothing will happen, if you don’t show up. Count to 5, then get up and do what you wanted to do. A vision without discipline will always remain a vision.

Some people say they need to be motivated to do something. Motivation will not always be there in that very moment. Here is the trick: Think about your motivation to change as mentioned above: Why you wanted to change something in the first place. Why you set your goals. Why you started. THIS is the motivation you need to go through this journey. Discipline will help get you there.

There are always days when going back to old routines feels inviting. This is exactly the moment when you need to show discipline. Think of discipline being the strongest form of self-care. You show up because of YOU. You are consistent with what YOU wanted for YOURSELF. Be kind to yourself and show up. You don’t always have to perform a 100% but show up. Do the best you can do that very moment. Consistency is key in any change. So stay true to your vision and show up.

In my journey, there were also many days -and still are – where I lack motivation to pursue my vision of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I come home from work and feel exhausted. I lack energy to get up and do sports. Unless I actively remind myself why I want to do that. Why not showing up for a workout would mean giving in to over prioritizing work which in turn would endanger my health.

I push myself to show up. Maybe I will run for 15 min only and then see that I am so tired that walking is the better option. Many times starting is the hardest part. Once I am up in my running gear or doing my first squads everything is fine. No matter the performance – showing up, staying consistent is key.

For most people change gets easier when they are not alone. Think about who is there to support you in progressing towards your vision. Who can help you stay on track, give you that pep talk that you need and celebrate every small victory with you.

It might be a spouse, a friend, a coach or a community of people who aim for similar things. You might consider getting a professional on board, be it a nutritionist, a fitness coach, a mentor or a coach.

Besides my partner who is always closely involved in every personal growth endeavor, I involved a close friend of mine. We would go running together, work out together and go for ice cream after the longest run to celebrate.

In addition, I worked with a personal coach. With her I worked on my inner believes that were hindering my growth. To give an example: I was raised to think that after a good and productive working day you had to feel exhausted and too tired to do anything else. That work always has to come first in order to make a career. I had to become aware of these mental models in order to break my patterns and ultimately succeed in my journey.

Leave a reply to share how you find motivation and stay on track!

Why being truly heard is such a gift

I took last week off to enjoy the week my wedding was supposed to happen. After ten years as a couple we wanted to celebrate our love for each other, the shared commitment and trust. We wanted to show gratitude for every beautiful moment that we experienced together. We wanted to dance and laugh with those people who shaped us as individuals and as a couple. Then Covid-19 hit.

Everything goes downhill

In Austria, the most significant day was March 13th, when our government announced strict regulations to ensure everyone’s health. The day before, we’d bought my partner’s wedding suit. Now, suddenly everything was under question. We started to adapt our plans. We reduced the number of guests, opting for online presence but kept hoping.

Two weeks later, the Austrian government explicitly forbid weddings with more than 5 guests. When I heard that news I turned my phone off. I was not ready to face the questions, ideas, or commiserations of my friends and family. I just cried.

In this moment I realized how important this celebration was for me. A ritual of celebrating love and therefore the essence of live itself, had to be cancelled due to an invisibly deadly power.

Almost two days later I started to look at my messages again. I started answering my phone.

Listening as a habit

99% of my phone or video calls followed the same pattern: People asking if it was true that everything had to be cancelled. They stated that they felt sorry for us/me. Then there were some variations:

Some tried to comfort me: “It’s not lost forever. You can wait another year. It does not make a difference.” “You do the right thing, you cannot put anyone in danger.”

Some tried to put it into perspective: “It’s only a wedding.” “There are people facing far more impact by Covid-19 than you.” “Think about people who’s health is in danger, who loose their job…”

Some tried to help with their ideas how to solve this issue: “Don’t worry, you can still get married, just choose 5 guests.” “You can elope, go someplace and do it”. “You can have an online celebration.”

I began to realize why I’d shut off my phone before. Why I was afraid to “face my friends and family”. All were trying to be supportive. Talking to them did not help me though. It was more something I had to to.

I new that I had options to postpone. Still, I was f***ing sad that it did not work out. Yes, I was aware that other people had far more problems to deal with. Still, I was heartbreakingly disappointed that this special day of my life wouldn’t take place. Also, I knew that I could change the setup of the celebration. But this would have contradicted the whole purpose of the wedding. We didn’t care about the papers or the rings. We wanted to celebrate something so special with everyone who had some part in it.

So in all conversations I took on this “yes, but”-role explaining (partly defending) our point of view.

It’s a blessing to be truly heard >> ❤

There was one conversation that went differently though. My friend Hailey gave me time to tell her about our decisions and our reasons. Then she was quiet. After some time she just said: “I am so sorry for you guys. I know how much you wanted this to happen. I am truly sorry. Shit, you must feel terrible.”

As I was really sad, I started to cry a bit. She just kept repeating how sorry she was for us and how shitty this situation is.

After some minutes, I suddenly felt more energetic. Like “now it’s time to do something about it”. I started to tell her how we could still create something special, what would be positive aspects of this situation and how we could find creative solutions for the next try.

The science behind

I became curious why this one conversation was so different from all the others. Why this one call gave me more energy and positivism than all the others that had drawn my energy.

In cognitive psychology this phenomenon is called “emphatic listening”. The difference to “normal” listening is, that emphatic listening happens with an open heart. It allows to experience a situation through another persons eyes and establishing an emotional connection. As a listener you connect with the experience of the other person. It is a way of honoring each other and gives us the feeling of being fully heard.

There is a super-cute video showing this effect and explaining what I experienced from the movie Inside Out.

When you feel fully heard, this is when the healing starts. You find a space where new thoughts are possible and new ideas emerge. This is also reflected in Otto Scharmer‘s concept of 4 levels of listening:

It is this kind of conversations that make the difference in a person’s live. I am so grateful that Hailey listened to me that way. It turned out to be such a valuable talk for me.

Having experienced this feeling of being fully heard in such a situation, someone offering to share the pain for a minute was a grateful and graceful experience.

So I decided to offer this gift to other people as well. I work on my listening skills and practice emphatic listening so that maybe another person can make a similar experience after talking to me.

What about the wedding?

Maybe you wonder how things turned out in the end. Despite the fact that strict regulations were lifted shortly before the wedding date, we decided to postpone for a year.

We were so lucky that we found a great date. We kept celebrating our original wedding date though. We spent some time in a nice hotel at a beautiful lake, we took time off together, we had a lovely couples shooting, we drank Champaign and our families delivered wedding cakes for us. We couldn’t have been more happy.

6 steps how to change your life -starting today

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

How often do you think about changing something in your life? I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

…and how often do you follow up?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. As a matter of fact most people have high ambitions that somehow end up nowhere. A good example for people like that…is me.

Oh gosh, how often did I swear I would stop eating sugar, work out more, be less chaotic, learn how to dance or cook, be more persistent in meetings and so on.

It is rather normal that we aim high and end up doing little of it. Or we loose motivation at some point, get stuck or lack discipline. For some people radical change works. In my professional and personal experience, practicing small steps of change is way easier and will eventually lead to great results.

Another road blocker for change is to wait for the right moment. To wait for perfect circumstances, an external event or someone who does something in order that you can start. Bulls***t. You have everything you need right now, right here.

I encourage you to start experimenting with little changes in your daily life. Take it lightly and see what comes out of it.

Myself, I started by changing tiiiiiiiny things. At first these steps seemed insignificant. In retrospective, about 1 year later I see how many aspects of my life I changed since then. Change one part in your life, and it will change everything.

Or as Lao Tzu puts it:

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step.”
— Lao Tzu

Here are 6 tips how you can introduce change into your life – starting now.

To get to a new place it is helpful to see where you are at the moment. Reflect on your current situation:

What do you know about yourself? What feedback do you get from friends, colleagues or your family? Which aspects of yourself do you feel confident or proud of? What would you consider your strengths? Which of your typical behaviors are hindering you (either in your private and/or professional life)? Where do you see potential for personal growth? What makes you feel good about yourself? What drains your energy or feels like and emotional black hole?

This reflection is the starting point of your change journey. Be as honest to yourself as you can be. The personal insights you gain here are for you and yourself only. Take a walk or do a meditation exercise before doing this reflection. A calm place and mind will deepen and enrich your insights. Seek for other peoples feedback to enhance your perspective.

My starting point was a 360° Feedback provided by https://www.now-here.com/. When I first saw my report my self-evaluation was way below than the assessment by others.

I told a friend about this and she said: “Maybe they don’t know you.” The hard truth was, that these were mostly colleagues I was working closely with, my direct reports and my boss.

My first reaction was not to believe the results: I called up the trainer. I politely made him aware of the fact that my report was wrong. The trainer smiled and calmly stated: “What I can see here is that you have an issue with your self-worth. Also, it is interesting that you think that THEY must be wrong”. Ouch.

In hindsight, I have to smile about my initial reaction to the report. This moment, it became obvious that other people believed more in my potential than I did myself. To make me feel better about myself I was holding down or criticizing others. Even now that I write this, I am a bit ashamed of myself.

Still, as I mentioned above: be honest to yourself. If you have a clear picture of where your are starting from and why you want to change something, it is way easier to succeed. Finding your motivation to change is key.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Before you start experimenting with slight changes in your life, take a moment to think about: What exactly do you want to achieve?

Which parts of your behavior do you want to expand? Which personal patterns do you want to break? What do you want to learn for yourself? How do you want to act and feel going forward?

Be precise in your answers. The more goals you set, the harder it will be to keep on track. It is more promising to chose one specific thing. You will experience that changing one part creates a snowball-effect in your life. Make sure that your change experiment has the right size: not to big, not too small.

Speaking about my journey, I wanted to learn to be more self- accepting. To ease the pressure that I put on myself. To take things lighter and move with more playfulness. I wanted to get out of my always-on performance-mode and start enjoying my life more.

Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash

Practicing change is about being and doing. Get clear on how you will shift your presence and energy. How will you behave differently?

By writing this down you create your own work instruction. Something you can hold on to and use as personal KPI. Thereby, you can track if you implement the desired behavior.

Chose something that you can practice and embody in your every day life. The more often you can repeat this new behavior, the more progress you will make.

For me it, embodying the change was to trust my strengths and enjoy making use of them by being kinder to myself. A difference in my behavior should be to let go of expectations and take care of my needs.

From time to time before taking a decision I would check these two dimensions.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

You want to shift your patterns so you need to do something different. I suggest to do it as early as possible.

Is your change about getting more healthy, than make yourself a healthy breakfast. If you are trying to become more understanding of others, take the morning only to listen to your family. If you want to be more relaxed, do some calming exercises. It can also help to take 10min for yourself and read a book or say your mantra out loud. Anything goes.

Whatever your goal is, include some aspect of it in the very first 10-30min of your day.

In my quest to more self-acceptance and kindness, I decided to set my alarm one hour later. I am the opposite of a morning person and need loads of coffee to get to a functioning mode. For my job where I commute 1,5 hours I needed to get up at 5.30 am. That killed me.

Coming to the office one hour later may sound trivial to others. For me it meant being the very last person to come to the office. I was afraid it would badly reflect on my performance review or people would start questioning my work ethics given that I was in a managerial role.

It took me a while before I found the courage to actually do this. I blocked the hours before 9:00 am in my calendar. With this, I could avoid meetings at 7.30 or 8:00 and made the shift in pattern possible.

Honestly speaking, it took some time until me and my colleagues got used to this adapted set up but I kept it until today and now it is fully accepted.

This small shift in behavior resulted in entering the office with a smile, better sleep, more focus during meetings, getting sick less often and over all – and that was what I was aiming for – more joy in my life.

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Remind yourself about your goals. Change does not come over night. By repeating our desired behavior we internalize it and succeed.

Mantras, inspirational quotes, affirmations or short statements help you to remind yourself about why you want to change.

The sentence I chose for this exercise did not serve me so I will not share it here. Instead I used 3 quotes to get me started, which I shared in a previous blog post.

You can visualize your statement, use it as a screensaver, a sticker or anything else that helps you remind yourself about your ambition.

Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

Working on yourself is fun – but not always. Some things don’t turn out the way you want. Sometimes you loose motivation or feel insecure about the side effects of your changed behaviors. Seek people you trust, who know who your are and who you want to be. Ask them for their feedback and use them as your supporting team.

In my case, I shared my plans with my partner. He listened and understood what I was aiming for. He knew that I was struggling with taking care of myself, going the extra mile on a daily basis and thereby slowly burning out. He helped me stick to my plan and stay consistent e.g. when people tried to squeeze in 7:00 am morning meetings despite my blocked calendar.

I checked with my team and my boss, if they were negatively effected by my changed behavior. It turned out that my boss did not notice any difference. My team was happy for me that I had started to take more care about myself. In the end, this was what they wanted me to do all along when filling out the 360° Feedback.


I wish you loads of fun and success with starting your personal change experiment!

Let me know how the 6 steps worked for you by leaving a comment or sending an email.

3 inspirational quotes that helped me start changing my life

On every step of a personal growth journey some words of wisdom can help us get started, find new motivation, push trough, let go or just enjoy the ride.

Here is a little collection of quotes that helped me get my personal tranformation started.

I don’t care- I love it

This song by Icona Pop became my mantra about a year ago. At this time I was very much occupied with thinking about other people’s expectations.

My head was constantly spinning around what I was supposed to do, what people expected of me, how I should behave, etc. The ridiculous thing was, that these expectations didn’t necessarily have to be real. I just thought the professor expected me to be humble about my test results, my boss to be tough and so on. I never challenged if this was really the case.

I started to realize that in order to be good at my job and feel whole I needed to let go of expectations towards me.

So in order to break this pattern, I established my mantra-song. Whenever I realized that I was caught up in blindly following other people’s expectations I started singing (mostly in my head): “I don’t care. I love it“.

At first I thought this would bring me in trouble and weaken my position at work. It turned out to be the contrary: Clearly stating what I needed in order to succeed, what I was offering to give and under what conditions, in short – dancing to my own tune- resulted in one on my biggest successes of my professional life.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear

When I realized how blindly and obediently I was following other people’s expectations, I got scared. I had spent 99% of my time thinking about what other people want from me. So I had no idea what I, myself, wanted.

I felt like a puppet on a string. In my notebook I wrote this on sentence: If I get rid of all expectations, what the f**k is left of me?

I felt naked and ashamed. Here I was. A person who dealt her whole life with helping other people to change for the better not even knowing who SHE was. What does this woman want? for herself? for her life?

At the same time I understood that I had to face this fear. I needed to dive into the unknown and explore the other side of fear. Only by going through my fears, I would grow as a woman and create a more powerful life for me.

Actually, I can

This sentence was on my mobile’s screen for several months. I was exploring who I was as a person and who I wanted to become. I was still struggling to distance myself from various expectations towards me and find my own voice.

To continue my path of exploration, I sometimes had to do things differently than I used to do them before: speaking up, speaking my truth, setting my boarders at work, or refraining from a high profile project when it did not match my criteria.

As it happens some of these things were very unusual. Not only to me but also my working environment. People told me: “you can’t do this”, “nobody ever did that”, “this might hurt your career”, “this might have consequences”.

Every time this happened I looked at the screen of my mobile phone: Actually, I can.

And I could. Step by step I started to build a new life with new behaviors, with a sharper profile and a more powerful voice.

I still walk along this path and keep exploring – and now a came to love it.

How to use 4 dimensions of knowing as a navigation system for personal growth

Some people choose for themselves to change something others are forced to do so by outside circumstances – such as the pandemic that we are experiencing right now. Every deep-level change throws us into unknown territory. The level of uncertainty rises and it can be hard to navigate through times were solid prognosis are just not possible.

We are educated to use our intellectual mind, logical thinking and rational deductions to make decisions. We make lists of Pros and Cons and analyse possible risks before trying out something different or take a decision.

This is definitely helpful to some extent. Let me introduce you to three more dimensions of knowing, which have helped me to smoothly navigate through uncertainty: Emotion, Intuition and Embodiment.

In addition to the intellectual mind, emotion, intuition and embodiment, used as data source, help you to follow your path and take decisions that are right for you.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Emotion

In our professional lives we are often trained to store away our emotions. Especially for women emotions at the work place are not received positively. Often they are labeled as “too emotional” or “too sensitive”.

Also in our private lives we are often expected to be happy and well. How are you? as a welcoming question is not expected to result in an emotional drain.

Research shows that tapping into our emotions – even the messy, difficult ones – and accepting them, leads us to thrive and be truly happy.

As Susan David says in her TEDtalk:

Our emotions contain flashing lights of things that we care about. When we are open to the difficult emotions, we are able to generate responses that are values-aligned.

Susan David

If we take a look at our emotions with curiosity, compassion and some courage, we can take values-connected steps in our lives.

Intuition

Sometimes all facts and logical thinking clearly favor one option – but then you instinctively go for the alternative. Like turning down a job offer from a great company just because it did not “feel right”.

In times on uncertainty – like we are today – we often even lack the rational information part. Everything is really hard to estimate, surprises happen and things evolve dynamically and often with unexpected domino effects.

According to Gary Klein, ex-Marine, psychologist, and author of the book “The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut Feelings to Make Better Decisions at Work,” 90% of the critical decisions that we make are made by intuition in any case. Intuition can actually be a far more accurate and certainly faster way to make an important decision.”

Psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer argues in his interview with Harvard Business Review that

gut feelings are good tools for an uncertain world. They’re not caprice. They are not a sixth sense or God’s voice. They are based on lots of experience, an unconscious form of intelligence.

Gerd Gigerenzer

Even tough most high level managers don’t admit it in public, research shows that about 50% of all their decisions are at the end gut decisions.

Gigerenzer continues saying that instinctive decisions are often rationalized afterwards. People look for evidence that backs up their intuitive decision in order to present it as fact-based.

Embodiment

Another dimension of knowing is your body. Researchers conclude that psychological processes are closely linked to the body.

When you are dealing with change take a look at your body’s responses. Observe yourself to find out, what is working for you: When are you tensing up? When can you breathe easily? Where do you feel pain in your body? What outside events or context is it linked to?

I myself found out, that my belly makes noises as if a was hungry, when I feel trapped in a meeting and cannot express my position on the matter of discussion.

When do you feel the urge to eat chocolate, smoke a cigarette or drink a glass of whine? This is mostly a sign that you are about to numb an emotion.

Being tired every morning, forcing yourself to get our of bet, can be as sign that something is off.

Or the other way round: How can you practice self-care and do yourself something good? Be it a looooong nap, a walk, healthy food,… Even if it feels strange or esoteric, try out some yoga practice to become more aware of your body. Calm your mind with some meditation exercise to also sense what’s happening in your body.

Observing ourselves how our bodies react to certain situations can be a helpful data source to find out what is right for us. Taking care of ourselves including our body, we make sure that we respect and worship this part of us.

To grow as a person and advance in your transformation make use of all four dimensions of knowing: intellectual mind, intuition, emotion and embodiment.

By using multiple sources of data, we get a clearer picture of where we are heading to. Not everything seems logic at the first sight. Some signs that we receive from other dimensions of knowing are contrasting to what we is “the norm”, what is accepted” or “expected”.

If we observe these signs with curiosity and appreciate them as valuable source of information we might surprise ourselves. Then we only need the courage to follow up.

I am happy to share how these four dimensions of knowing have helped me navigate through my personal and professional adventures in an upcoming blog post.

Thank you to  Daniel Gonzalez for providing the picture on top!

Finding the courage to step into unknown territory

A couple of days ago I was satisfied about my progress since I decided to start my personal transformation. I wanted to dive into the unknown, following my white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

My achievements, as I might call them, so far were:

  • getting clarity on what is important for me. Namely, the ground values that glue together who I am: love, creating with passion and natural authenticity.
  • defining HOW I want to live my life going forward. Creating a vision of a future life where I can wear sports-gear most of the time, have room for creativity, can work from home a lot, have space for my family and friends and can enjoy physical exercises and nature.
  • taking the first steps into this direction by exercising, writing articles and contributing to a book, making time for my future husband and friends who need my presence.
  • giving up -or let’s call it in a more sophistical manner: “letting go” half of my managerial duties, which has never happened before in my company and required a talk with the CEO.

Looking back, these are things that I can be proud of – and I am. I feel like the world has given me so much already that fits into my vision of life.

Here’s the BUT.

I realized that I am “not there yet”. As if there was a hurdle which I have not crossed yet. I know that this wall represents quitting my well-paid, managerial job in the midst of a global pandemic. This in turn means letting go of financial independence, my comfortable lifestyle, my career and my dear colleagues.

Deciding if I should let go of my job seems like I am standing in front of a big stone wall and can’t get over it. It reminds me of Harry Potter’s platform 9 3/4. To get to the magic train, young wizards and witches have to run towards this wall. Eventually they will experience that the wall is a secret door that lets people pass through the moment they touch the wall.

Like the young wizards and witches I am f***ing scared to run towards the wall. How do I know that this wall is truly magical? What if I run full speed, hit the wall and end up only with bruises on my head?

Even if I pass this wall – what lies behind it? Is it a magical world full of wonders, adventures and excitement? Or is it more of a horror movie that I will enter? Where everything is so terrifying that I will not be able to open my eyes to eat a bit of popcorn. Plus, I will have bad dreams for weeks.

Will I ever be able to pay for my bills by myself again? Will I ever find a job again that I feel fulfilled, joyful and passionate about? Or will I – after some months of leisure come back to the realization that I have to serve burgers at McDonald’s to make my living. Will I crawl back on my knees and move in with my parents having to clean my room every second day?

In my heart I know that I am going to run towards this f***ing wall. There is no way around it. It is right in front of it and I need to to do something about it. Going back is not an option. Just like Alice said:

I know how I want to live my life differently in the future – actually I already started to do so. I am certain that “now” doesn’t fit me any longer. I loved the past. I learned and I grew – but it seems I grew out of it.

My only choice seems to be “when” I will run towards that wall.

Hitting the wall (in case it is not magical after all) won’t be too bad. My future husband is a doctor 😉 And I am way too curious about what’s behind that wall not to go through.

If I land in a horror story, I will learn how to run fast and defend myself super-hero-style. Which is not too bad, now that I think of it.

In case I find a magical wonderland evolving when I easily pass the gate, I will take my time exploring it full of curiosity. I will be enjoying every minute and every adventure it brings.

So the main question will be: What the hell do I need to finally take this step? When will I overcome my damn fears? Maybe they sound so insignificant to you but for me they give me hell.

When will I find the courage to run towards platform 9 3/4? WHEN??? What else is needed to take this final step?

Writing about change, authenticity is valuable to me. So, it is important to me to also share how I struggle with change. How I face my fears and deal with them. If you look for a polished version, just jump over to Instagram or the social media platform of your choice. 😉

I dealt with personal and organizational changes for all of my professional life. So I think it is safe to say, that any profound change is not easy. It comes with its struggles.

“New” are fighting “old”, habits or fear. Maybe some setbacks are luring you back to where you were. The “known” sometimes feels more comfortable than the “unknown”. Especially if you feel like you need a break.

Here’s the catch: the shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through it. So let’s go.

The shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through. So let’s go.

If you are in the midst of changing something in your life as well, let’s go. It might be f***ing frightening but we will make it. We will either succeed or learn. We will be proud that we overcame our fears. We will look back at this magical wall, shrug our shoulders and smile about how insignificant our fears turned out to be. We will enjoy ourselves, smiling at the world and will be ready to explore it further.

Let’s go!

Heart Attacked

Yesterday LinkedIn notified me that my close friend from university got promoted. The simple act of congratulating him resulted in not being able to sleep for half of the night.

It was not the first time this happened. Over the past 10 years my mind has decided to go back to those times more frequently than I wished.

Every time I lie in bed, remembering how close we were. He was the perfect friend, supportive, a great sense of humor, down to earth – and handsome. We studied Economics together, both feeling a bit like we didn’t belong to those rich kids striving for great careers, already driving their BMWs to university. Being different than the other students and struggling with the overwhelming drop-out exams didn’t matter too much, as we had each other laughing about every challenge we faced.

Did I mention that he was handsome?

Okay let’s not beat around the bushes, I completely fell for him.

So it might be understandable that from time to time “friends” turned into “friends with benefits”. But when we met again the next time everything was back to “friends”. I don’t remember exactly how things developed. What I remember though is, that even my best friend got annoyed by my hopes for a romantic relationship with him.

Than one day, out of the blue, I met my prince (as my father calls him) who is my partner ever since. Maybe as a result, my friend and I grew apart soon and he moved to another country to start his career.

Now when my heart attacks my mind at night, when I am up thinking about him, I can’t help but wonder what could have been, would have been, should have been. It haunts me. The more time passes, the more I fill the gaps in my memories with imagination, probably with the most romantic scenario that I am able to construct.

What haunts me is not the wish for a different partner or a different life. I am so blessed to have my future husband as a partner in crime and couldn’t wish for anything else. What keeps me sticking to these what-if-thoughts is the feeling that I didn’t go for it. I did not try. I was too embarrassed to talk openly. I never found the courage to say what’s on my heart. I was too afraid to be rejected, to be humiliated, to be weak or sad.

Did I thereby fulfill my own prophecy?

I recently heard a tedtalk about the power of vulnerability. Brene Brown – the speaker – talked about the original meaning of courage which is “to tell the story of who you are with all your heart”. How you need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

You need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

It seems I was not ready for this back then. Which makes me think: now that I want to change my life and this thing still keeps me up at night – am I ready now? Do I have the courage to tell him how I felt when we were together, with the risk of embarrassing myself? Maybe he has fully forgotten about it. Maybe he doesn’t give a shit.

Still it fells important to me. Firstly, to close this chapter and come to peace with it. Secondly, to prove to myself that I a am strong enough today to be weak. And Thirdly, because I want to tell my friend that I miss him as my friend. Even if he is doing great without me, I would love to know that he knows he is valued, missed and important to another person out there.

So I am going to call him. I am going to talk to him. Break the circle of hiding behind nonsense-jokes and distance. Given my journey into the unknown I think it is a suitable challenge for me to do something I avoided to do for so long.

Wish me luck. Or better than that: Push me. because I am already f***ing scared.

An Unexpected Call

To open a meeting, one leader asked me this week: what inspired you or gave you hope during the last weeks – despite corona? Let me share with you what my answer was:

Sitting on my laptop ready to start writing I received a call from my company’s concierge. This was rather untypical, especially in times of Corona when everyone was working from home on reduced working time. The concierge connected me with an external caller. To my upmost surprise, it was and old friend from school whom I have not seen for more than 15 years. In school he’d been the chubby little boy who was always struggling to be somewhat included, never found a girlfriend and was driving people away by trying too hard to be their friend.

When he was calling me now, his voice was full of self-confidence. He told me about how his life changed over the last years. How he made a career in IT. How he fell in love with that one special girl and decided to get married after only one year in a private ceremony in Hawaii. He told me about moving away, getting to know different people and lifestyles and that he is now doing about 2 Iron Men per year. “You know, now that you know how I managed to change my life, you will understand why I am not afraid to call someone I haven’t talked to in 15 years”.

Why is this my answer on what’s inspiring me these days? For me, this is not about a certain way of life that you have to adhere to but the huge shift that this person managed to introduce into his life. It shows me, how much we can achieve as human beings, how we can overcome our own patterns, when we are dedicated, open for change and act braver than we think we would ever be.