December 22, 2021

Career Path Success Stories

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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This week’s episode is going to be a big hit of dopamine.

Learn why it’s so important to celebrate your wins and successes and how it positively changes your brain for the better.

Hear 5 different career path success stories of real clients who found their ideal career path.  Learn how you can use their journey to inspire your own so 2022 is the best year yet.

If you’re unsure what your career path should be, are questioning what is possible, and looking for proof and ideas to defining your own ideal career path, this is for you.

What You’ll Learn

Why celebrating your wins is important for your brain

5 career path stories to inspire your own goals

How to create your own ideal career path

Featured in This Episode

Register for the free training January 13th: 5 Mistakes People Make When Creating a Career Plan

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Welcome to Navigating your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Hello. It’s the holiday season. And before digging into this episode, I want to wish you a wonderful holiday. I hope that you are taking some time to rest and reflect on the new year to enjoy your friends and family and also celebrate yourself. Yes, celebrate no matter how hard your year has been, you are here, you are alive and you made it through.

You have things to celebrate that you probably overlooked. One thing that I work with my clients on is really celebrating their success, not just for the fanfare, because it is really good for your brain. Let’s say you hit a product milestone on time or finish a hard task you’re proud of. You naturally get a hit of dopamine, which is also known as the feelgood chemical. Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter, sending signals to other neurons that serve as a pleasurable reward to your brain.

When this happens, these neurons fire together and it causes a rewiring of your brain and can override negative thought patterns. How cool is that? Now? I talk about this in more depth in my episode, The Science Behind Changing Your Thoughts. So check that out, and I can also link to it in the show notes for you.

So when you experience a dopamine reward, your brain pays attention and recognizes what you did. It takes note of what to do next time to get that same positive dopamine reward. So with my clients, I always have them celebrate their wins, and I keep records for them so they can see over time just how much they’ve accomplished because your brain’s default will be to distort delete and really just to support your core beliefs that are already there in your subconscious. So if you, for example, believe that you’re not good enough, you’re unlovable, which on a core level, so many people believe this.

So if that’s you know that you’re not alone when you have that core belief, though, in your subconscious, the default will be to minimize or dismiss the good the things that you did that were great.

The milestones you reached. Your recall will instead focus on what went wrong. So I want you to also celebrate your success. Celebrate that you’re here, that you took time to even listen to this podcast episode. Recognize that if that’s all that you can grasp in this moment, it’s common to want to put off our success to say, oh, I achieved this promotion or work milestone.

I’m going to celebrate when the pandemic is over. When I can get a sitter when fill in the blank. Definitely make plans for when it works, but also do something small right away, like right now. And a simple analogy that I like to talk about because it’s just so simple is training dogs and we’re not dogs. I’m not meaning to suggest that we are, but this analogy works.

So when you’re training a dog and you want to reward good behavior, you give them a treat or you give them the love or the pet right away, not a week or a month or even an hour later. Right. Because they will have no idea what you’re celebrating or what you’re loving on them for. They will definitely enjoy the reward, but they won’t know that it’s because of a specific thing that they did or didn’t do. So with your brain.

You also have to do that. You have to do real time celebration so it can correlate the celebration with the reward. The closer, the better. So if you’re going to wait, that’s totally fine. But work in a toast of champagne or whatever you enjoy or writing especially incursive, that symbolizes the celebration to help connect the dots in your brain.

So even if you just take a few moments to write in  cursive, activates both sides of your brain, just write and celebrate like this is something that I did. And this is why it’s great and just kind of give yourself that Pat on the back and that will help create that positive thought pattern in your brain. Okay, so enough on that go and celebrate. And in the spirit of celebration, I am going to share some ideal career path success stories. So this is a topic that people come to me for all of the time.

They want to know how to get to that next level, what their ideal career path is and how to make it happen. And after helping so many people with this and taking them through my unique process, I wanted to share the outcome of a few of my clients so that you can get an idea of the possibilities that could exist for you, because right now you might not even know what they are because you can only see what other people have done or maybe what is logical or what is in a ladder where you work.

And so what makes this process so effective, regardless of who you are or what job you have is how customized it is and how it taps into your subconscious and utilizes principles of coaching positive psychology and neuroscience. So it’s not cookie cutter. It’s not a generic assessment that you take online or a book that you buy at the store.

It’s specific to you, and the outcome is so specific that you will know with confidence and clarity exactly what you want because it was tailored for you. You have a protocol, so to speak, of what lights you up the work environment. You want to be in the level in your career that you want to be, the skills you want to use, what your strengths are and not just from a generic assessment. You know what a hobby is versus what you want your career to be, because sometimes that can be confusing.

I’ve had people come to me and say, I have this kind of hobby Jobby on the side.

I think I might want to make that my full time career, and they go through this and realize that’s not the case at all, and they save themselves from a big mistake. So you get to really know what you want now and for the future and how to make it happen. And it’s incredible to see it applied with person after person, from specialists and scientists to vice presidents. It never fails. So I’m going to share five examples with you that have different outcomes, and it’s using the same process.

But each of these clients had a different outcome, a different protocol. So I’m going to change the name of these clients, given where their path is taking them to protect their confidentiality. So based on if they’re going to be leaving their position or just based on protecting them and their confidentiality, I don’t want to give too many details and then share their information and have something put out there that they don’t want to put out there. So I’m not going to say their names with the exception of one, which is Jenna.

And that’s because Jenna has been on my podcast and she has shared her story and all of the details of it.

And so I’ll link to her podcast episode in the comments as well, if you want to hear her whole story. But the first person that I’m going to talk about is Laura. So Laura started working with me earlier this year, and she was at a crossroads in her career. She’s a seasoned professional with 30 years of experience. She decided that she wanted to take a break and really figure out what she wanted the next phase of her career to be.

So we went through my process, and what she discovered was two things. She discovered what she wanted her long term post retirement life to look like, what she wanted for her and her husband, the business they could have together. But we also created her unique protocol for what she wanted right now. So she knew how to use her extensive technical expertise, her leadership skills, her industry experience, and she also discovered what had been missing from her prior roles and what she was really looking to leverage going into the future.

So her protocol that we created through my process has a list of exactly what she wanted.

She started entertaining recruiter conversations where companies were interested in creating roles. As she described, based on her protocol, she was able to influence her job description, and she ultimately moved into a senior leadership role at a new company, doing the work that lit her up and working in an environment that is aligned with her values. So again, she didn’t know what she wanted. She was a very seasoned, experienced professional, had a lot of strengths, a lot of skills that she could use. Also, some things that she wasn’t using, that she wanted to.

And so when we started the process, it was kind of a conversation of should she go into a different Department? Should she be a consultant? We looked at a lot of different avenues. And what is great about this process is it really makes it very clear what your next step should be, what your possibilities are, and not just based on what you’ve done before, but what you want in your future. And because it’s so specific to you, and using all of these principles of neuroscience and positive psychology and coaching, you get something that you can’t get anywhere else, right.

You can’t get it from reading a book or taking an assessment online or just working with a general career coach. You have to use this process. And it’s so cool, because once you have your protocol, you know what’s missing. You use that to influence roles at other companies or at your own company. There’s just so much opportunity that opens up when you know exactly what you want, and you have that clarity.

So that is just one example. Now, let’s talk about Sam. Sam and I started working together this year, and she came to me because she has worked in the Pharma industry for 20 years and wasn’t sure that she wanted to stay in the industry. She was great at what she did, but it drained her. She was stressed and not doing the work.

She loved going through my process, she discovered something so incredible. She actually wants to be a natural health doctor. She’s going to go to medical school in the spring, and she is staying where she is for now and embarking on this new journey in 2022. She’s so excited. And I’m so happy for her to have found her purpose, because, like you, she had worked hard to get where she is, and she has a successful career.

But it wasn’t lighting her up. And she has so many other areas that she was passionate about and interested in that she didn’t know could ever be a career. And there are things that she kind of pushed to the side and didn’t think were possible for her, didn’t know how they could all come together. And really, there’s this thing that she’s always wanted. And now she’s going to go do it.

And we brought that to the surface. We brought that out of her subconscious. We made it possible. We tested and researched out different opportunities so that she knew and had that big AHA of, like, this was the right thing for her, because that’s part of this process, the process isn’t just let’s figure out what your ideal career would be. Let’s make sure it’s actually the right move, because I don’t want you to get really excited about something and then make a big, sweeping change, and it’s a mistake or your brain just freaks out and is like, what did you do?

I want you to keep the success you’ve already created. I want you to feel confident and clear about your decision. I want you to know 100% that this is the right move for you, and I want you to have the skills to be able to be able to make that decision and fill any gaps that need to be filled so that you can go on and you can do that next thing, knowing it’s right for you. It’s incredible. Okay.

Let’s talk about Jenna. So Jenna was on my podcast. She works in clinical project management, and she came to me because she wanted to be promoted and she wanted to move into a people management role. She was overworked stressed and felt like she needed to get to the next level. What we discovered when I took her through this process is the problem wasn’t actually the work.

She actually likes what she does and wanted more freedom, to be more confident and to let go of the shoulds that we put on ourselves. She was comparing herself to others and using external milestones like promotions to measure her happiness. And she got happy in her job without a promotion. She established work boundaries and we worked on the challenges that she was experiencing, and she was happier than she had been in a very long time. And guess what happened.

She stopped pining for that promotion in people management and was content to where she was and her boss approached her about a promotion. And this has happened so many times with my clients. I have had several clients that have come to me, and within a matter of weeks or a couple of months, just by focusing on themselves and working on their own development, they get happier and more opportunities present themselves. Their bosses come to them with promotions, they get promoted, they get recruited from another company and get a big pay increase in another job that wasn’t even on their radar.

That is the universe working in your favor when you take the time to really focus on you.

So what she did, though, is when her boss approached her for that promotion instead of just saying yes, she used her protocol that we had created together to say no yes, just say no to the promotion. It was really more like a not yet. So she wanted to establish her own boundaries and make sure that there were some changes put in place before she took on more responsibility. And her boss agreed again. She was able to use her protocol, able to use her coaching, to know what she wanted to negotiate her promotion.

And now she’s promoted, and she’s loving being a people leader. So Jenna was on the podcast a few months ago. I will link her story in the show notes, I don’t know how far along in her journey she has gotten when that podcast was recorded, but she provides a lot of great detail about just the evolution and the journey that she went through when she went through this process and she went through coaching. Okay, so Karen, Karen is another client who came to me because she was drained.

She was overworked.

She felt miserable. She had over 20 years of experience in her field and medical affairs. She had an idea for a business that she wanted but didn’t know if it was feasible or what she should do. Are you hearing the theme here? If you’re feeling like you’re at a crossroads, that you have the thought, you want something more or different, but you don’t know what you’re not alone.

These stories are a testament to that. So Karen went through my process and discovered she wanted to work in advocating for patients with cancer as a consultant or coach. She’s in the process right now of writing her business plan and in the process of discovering exactly what she wanted and creating her protocol. She also established boundaries, learning how to work more effectively with others, to be more Proactive in her time management and be more fulfilled in her work while she works towards her new company, which is a dream of hers.

Now, finally, I’m going to share the story of Miriam.

Miriam is a very experienced principal scientist and project leader. She has accomplished so much in her education in her career, but she was searching for that next level. She wanted to determine her path to promotion or that next step. Now we went through my process and created a development plan based on her protocol. We worked on advocacy and influencing her management.

She was able to get on more visible projects, move to a people management role and get a seat on a national leadership board. Her protocol is guiding her to make decisions on what she wants to do in her career and she knows what to seek and what to say yes to that is going to position her for that next level. She has been invited to exploratory meetings with other companies, including a CEO, to talk about how she can contribute, and she’s using her protocol to guide those conversations and move into a position that is perfectly aligned with who she is and what she wants.

She’s not sacrificing her personal life or her values for her ideal career path. So there you have it.

Five different examples of how my career path process works and what success can look like. Discovering what you want and having that tangible protocol to help you make decisions is invaluable the process doesn’t allow for cheating. You know how you take a personality assessment, you get the results, and you wonder if it’s just because of how you answered that day, like maybe you weren’t in a good mood, or maybe something else impacted the way that you were thinking about the questions. Well, with this, we’re digging into your subconscious and coming at this discovery from multiple angles.

It’s like gathering pieces of a puzzle.

And then I put the puzzle together based on the pieces we discover through my process, there’s really nothing better in your career than knowing you’re on the right path, doing fulfilling work, living your purpose, having the impact you want to have while also having the personal life you want to have the money you want to have the status you want to have. You can excel on all levels. All right, that is all for this week’s episode. Happy holidays. I will talk to you next week.

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When you brainstorm what you can do, you aren’t just leaving. It an open item fluttering through the sky. Instead, you have a plan. You addressed it, even if addressing it is writing it down so that you don’t forget after the holidays or scheduling time in your calendar for it so that, you know, you have dedicated work time to address whatever it is you need to get done. Or maybe you’re delegating some of your items. But you get to decide it’s just a problem to solve. And if you’re thinking everything on my needs list needs to get done, just needs to get done before I go on break, then look at it objectively and ask, Does it really?

Can you negotiate timelines if you don’t have enough time, can you delegate? The answer is yes. So if it literally is too much for you to do before you go out on break in an impossible deliverable, then if this is something that you’ve had adequate time to do and you drop the ball, you waited until last minute, well, then you might need to just work over time to get it done. If it’s something that isn’t the case, it really is just something that is just beating down on you.

It’s stressful. It was a last minute asked because that always happens. The end of the year. Everyone has their end of year goals and they’re trying to get in last minute, but they need other people to help them. And so the pressure gets on everybody. Then I want you to really consider how you can push back on that. How can you negotiate that timeline? A lot of times? What was important to the company when goals were created is not important. At the end of the year, things change.

So look at what help you can get what timelines you can negotiate, what support you might need to make it happen. And then when you have an accurate list of everything that actually needs to get done, then make a tangible action plan for it. I find this to be really helpful for my clients, because when it’s in your head, like I said, it’s just, oh my gosh, I have all these things to do, but when you even just writing it down, having a list having a plan of action for it is going to make you feel so much better.

Just give it a try. But the point is that you get to decide. So get that list out of your head and make that tangible action plan, and it’s going to help you disconnect mentally. Now, emotionally, let’s say you have a problematic employee issue or just feel it’s hard to just step away because your work is your identity and you don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re not working. And believe me, this happens to more people than you think. Some people they love that hustle of the job.

Then this is where I would add in some activity, some meditation, mindfulness exercises, journaling, do some work to really separate you from the problematic employee issue or whatever has you emotionally connected? There’s nothing you can do about it on vacation. Handle it to the best of your ability and work on your thoughts about it. What would you need to feel to be emotionally disconnected? What is drawing you in and how can you address it? You could put a timer on and give yourself five minutes to feel whatever you feel about the issue and then decide how you want to move forward.

I had an episode last month on meditation and how it can actually help advance your career and some resources that you can try to get started. So I would check that out. I also have a couple of actual meditations that I recorded for you on the podcast. So those are things that you can also try to help you emotionally release from whatever it is that is keeping you connected to work that you’re worried about, that you’re stressed about, that you’re feeling emotionally charged by now. If it’s an identity thing that you’re just loving the hustle of work, you’re not looking forward to Playdoh time, TV time baking and all the things that holidays can bring.

Then what I think would be helpful for you is to think of all of the things that you want to do, but you’re always too busy to do the books you’ve been wanting to read, something you wanted to organize, planning for 2022, maybe a new exercise or activity, something new you’ve been wanting to try and schedule that time in come up with all of the things that you say that you want to do, but you’re too busy and schedule those in during your downtime. It will make it feel more productive.

It’ll give time for you. You’ll be accomplishing something, but you’ll still have that break from work. All right. So give these strategies a try so that you can feel disconnected and feel the way that you want to on this holiday break, whatever holiday you’re celebrating. I hope it’s everything you want it to be, and I will talk to you here. Same time, same place next week.

I get asked all of the time. How do I know if I’m in the right career?


You can find out. I created a free quiz using my criteria for what makes a great job fit. You can take the quiz at my website, and in less than three minutes you’ll know the answer so you can stop guessing and take some action. And as a bonus, if your job isn’t a great fit, you’ll get some resources to help you decide what to do about it. Head there now.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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