By Martha, member of Latin America tribe 2019.
I remember the 1st of February 2017 as if it was yesterday. It was the first day at my new job, my first job as a young professional. At that moment, I had been living abroad as a student in the Netherlands for 5 months and now I had the opportunity to stay longer and live in the country from another perspective: a professional. My job position was “Sustainability developer”. It was (and still is) a topic I’m passionate about but I didn’t have much experience in the area so it was a big challenge. A challenge I was super excited to make part of my every day.
There’s a reason why I wanted to start with a short but meaningful memory of my first job. I remember being so nervous and excited but at the same time I almost felt sick. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing or why I was doing it but I decided to give it a chance, maybe something good would come out of it. And indeed after 5 months of not easy work, alongside colleagues from another culture with a language different than mine, making negotiations in English (which is not my mother tongue) with older professionals with more experience than me, I learned something:
All you have to do in order to accomplish both yours and the company’s goals is experience discomfort and confidence.
Get uncomfortable because you have to push yourself to do new things and test your capabilities, which leads to feeling confident once you see that being uncomfortable leads to a learning experience and discovering new skills. A small game of words you have to remember every time you want to make a change in your life.
For example; my very first experience pushing my boundaries was when I decided to create a Sustainability Ambassadors Network in the company I used to work for. I was the new member, the foreigner, the Mexican. I didn’t know anyone but I was already asking people to commit to new responsibilities besides their daily activities. I needed to convince them of the importance of this network and how they would be able to create a bigger impact if they promoted sustainability on a daily basis. I was so nervous about how to approach people and what I should do in case they refused, but as I started asking people where surprisingly open to try it.
Eventually, we had a meeting each month to define activities and promote them among the employees so we all adapted a more sustainable mindset both in the office and at home. This was me getting uncomfortable first, but then feeling confident after seeing progress in results. These experiences then shaped my career as I discovered what my capabilities were.
Once the experience was there, some different questions began to enter my mind. What actually was the impact I was making and why did I want something more?
Over the last couple of years, I've realised that we often find comfort when we no longer feel challenged. This is the moment when the easiest option is to not change anything because it's a human response to enjoy comfort. But for us to grow personally and professionally and chase something meaningful, we have to seek that discomfort and first that means we need to really dig deep to discover why we have stagnated and become comfortable. Often the answer is that we no longer feel aligned to the 'why' of what we are doing each day in our careers.
Take a moment to think about your everyday routine, what do you do in the time between you waking up and going to bed? When you think of it, do you feel excited and happy? Or you feel like you’re just going with the flow? Can you spot that one thing (or maybe even things) that make you feel unmotivated? Now that you have it on spot, think of what you could do different to turn that feeling into a positive one?
In my experience, I analysed what I was doing in my everyday routine and I found out that I really enjoyed my work but (here comes the but) there was something missing.
I was aware that with my job I was making an impact on workers lives and their companies but I anted to know that I was also giving something back to the world. I’ve had the chance to experience what social entrepreneurship is like and the amazing things you can do when you first think about the outcome of your business for society. I wanted to have this priority in my job. So I decided to take that step most of us are scared of: get out of my comfort zone to get that experience and find out how to create that impact I’ve been wanting for so long but always had “something better” to do.
I’m not saying you should quit your job and leave everything behind in order to find out what you want, but you should definitely start doing something different. Become mindful and analyse yourself. You can start with making a list of what you would like to accomplish in the next month. Start simple, start small. Arrange those things on your list from the most important or meaningful things to the least. And then think. Analyse. What can you do now that will bring you closer to achieving that one thing on your list? TIP: Remember the KISS! rule - Keep It Simple, Stupid! The clearer your ideas, the easier it will be for you to turn them into a reality.
Remember that in order to make a change you don’t need to start big you just need to dream big but start small. Once you’ve taken a leap into the uncomfortable zone and then with patience seen the progress, you’ll eventually find a lot more satisfaction in your work. All it starts with is a small leap...
For me that’s what Nomad Academy is. That leap into the unknown that made me think of what I needed to do differently to have the outcomes I expected from my career. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, to be honest. Now here I am in South America with this tribe trying to set up my freelance consultancy business which, after a lot of reflection, I think will make an impact that I'm really satisfied with. Because the discomfort and confidence got me here, all I can say is that it's totally worth it to feel lost in order to find what moves you to get out of bed with a smile every day.
Author: Martha López Sainz
Martha is a Mexican Strategy consultant currently part of our Latin America tribe. She is working on her project to provide freelance consultancy services to businesses across all of Mexico and beyond. She is awesome.