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Women in Big Data Founders

Building Resilience for Career Growth: Self Care For The Long Run

By Srabasti Banerjee, Big Data Engineer

Right now, some people are in between roles and the pandemic has also added extra stress for many of us. What we learnt at this session is really for the rest of our working lives, as no company offers much stability these days, except perhaps the government.

Women in Big Data hosted Bob Loftis, Communications Coach, to discuss attitudes and elements of our mindset that can interrupt a positive progression in what we need for success. We explored some activities that stop the negative influence that we all internalize, but may not realize. Knowing how to take care of yourself especially if you experience prolonged transition, stress, and uncertainty is essential for staying healthy and resilient.

This session provided insights, tips, and practices that can help sustain you, and those close to you, through all kinds of situations that you did not create but must work through and, ideally, thrive in.

A mindful approach to self-care enables us to manage unexpected life surprises and challenges that always appear. If we stay in our typical way of reacting, often full of assumptions and negative thinking, we lose the power to better control our reactions and maneuver as needed to get the best result we want. We focused on applying some best practices for resilience and growth discussed: these proven tips make a difference!

Our Cognitive Dilemma

The way we think and react has been formed over the years, often starting early in childhood and reinforced in family and school life. The perspective we needed to apply earlier, however, can move to the extreme later in life and cause problems, such as our wanting everything to go as planned to avoid catastrophe, which then leads to constant worry that not every detail is perfect…resulting in poor sleep habits.

By using attention and awareness, we can slowly begin to intercept negative or debilitating thoughts (“this never goes right!”) and replace those thoughts with ones that motivate action (“I’ll learn a lot from this.”).

Stress As Our Friend and Challenger

Stress is a natural part of living and brings attention to things that are important and essential: “I need to persuade them with this proposal.” Stress turns against us when it goes out of control and over-influences our body’s reactions. Recognizing when you are stressed from your own body signals (tight stomach, backache, neck pain, etc.) can help you move toward a more useful reaction. We discussed common ways we can calm ourselves down and find better possibilities to change our mental response.

 Notice the stress -> Catch the thought -> Calm your body -> Change the thought

Having deep empathy for ourselves, others, and situations can help bring calm and positive action. Regularly looking at an early childhood picture reminds us of that very young, creative, happy, and optimistic person we still are…even when sometimes it’s hidden a bit. Seeing our “problem person” as a child can help to lighten our reaction, wondering how hard it may be for her/him now.

Using our Inner Strength

When things don’t go as we want, it can be very upsetting…usually with little ability to change external events. But we can change our mental processing to find some way to use the information to improve, not take things so personally. Forgiving ourselves and others is empowering. We are all perfectly imperfect. And, if fortunate, we learn and adapt.

For instance, look at interviewing as networking, leaving a good impression, even when they say, “not a match.” Being clear on your direction is key for resilience, always looking at the larger picture, not the immediate details: living your core values.

During our session, we reviewed how to set a direction for our career in a few years, with suggestions for planning how to get there.

A Sample Career Vision Statement

“It’s 2027 and I am enjoying my consulting work enormously. I have a few trusted clients who appreciate my contributions. I read to keep current and use social media to connect to prospective clients. I have published my first book and do speaking engagements monthly. I organize family events regularly. My partner loves her work, too, and we…” And so on.

To get started, take a future view… In _ 3 _ 5 _ 10 years, I see myself working happily because of the following…. I wake up and I _______. I work this many hours weekly__. I do most of my work at (location) ____. My commute is ___ . What I enjoy about this work is ___. I like my manager because ___. Continue to create a 1-2 page description of your best life at that point.

A SMART goal shows how to get to your Aim: it’s Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Timed.

Few of the tips that Bob shared with us are:

  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Exercise, take walks.
  • Volunteer to help others, perhaps with your specialty skills. .
  • Keep your faith (spirituality).
  • Read inspiring books (ex., The Second Mountain, David Brooks).
  • Notice the negative thoughts and reframe them (not failure, feedback) We are always learning more, and getting better at this.
  • Lower some expectations, stay focused on your Aim and goals.
  • Continue learning about your specialty and other areas.
  • Have healthy meals, hydrate often…primarily with water!
  • Celebrate mini successes!
  • Keep building your advocate support network – talk with people You never know when a good opportunity will pop up: expect it.
  • Get out with positive people (who might help you).
  • Let folks know you are looking. You just need that one good match, on both sides.
  • Change your strategy and tactics to try new things.
  • Make sure the people you care about the most know you do.
  • Practice positive intelligence.
  • Meditate or sit/walk in nature: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
  • It’s the process, not the outcome. Keep going, you will succeed, believe it!

We would like to thank Bob for his time and for sharing many helpful tips! Looking for new roles reminds me of the scenario of the Alaska salmon migration where millions of salmon travel upstream to freshwater lakes, most of them struggling and striving hard to achieve the goal. In the end, we will thrive in our environments and achieve the SMART goals we establish, overcoming stress as we are resilient.

We all headed back home from Zoom equipped with strategies to cope with stress and be resilient in all stages and phases of life, during these COVID times. Thanks to our sponsor Women in Big Data (WiBD) for giving us this opportunity! Shoutout to Eliana C, Regina Karson, Tina Tang and Shala Arshi for help throughout the process! Recording is available here.

Go Bob and WiBD for partnering and helping increase diversity in the Cloud and Big Data space!!

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