Your personal brand: Washed

I won’t call it slacking or semi-retirement; I’m working and doing lots of new things. I’m also doing old things in new ways. I’m definitely ‘washed’. What’s it about? Some new definitions of this word have meanings that connote a post drug induced stupor or a shortened version of the expression, ‘washed up’. This new usage has nothing to do with that.

It’s a state of mind and activity. Zach Baron came to his current state after years of toiling endlessly and climbing the corporate ladder. He got married, moved to L.A. from New York and has embraced a different lifestyle that includes golf, something he once despised. It has quieted his demons.

For others, it might mean a different existence where you’re accepting yourself, maybe not setting the world on fire, but feeling good in what you’re working at. Maybe you’re even ‘cool’ in a way that the striver you once were couldn’t have been. You’re comfortable, self-possessed. It could be the result of mindfulness and living in the present. We are besieged with ways to deal with our ‘monkey brain’ and calm ourselves down. Perhaps it’s working.

Whatever it is, it’s a state of examining what exists and feeling contentment about it. You’re OK with the fact that you’re not the top corporate executive, or the top salesman. You might even give up selling and try something else. That ambitious, aggressive brand that used to be you just doesn’t fit. It’s like a pair of shoes that are just too tight.

I would wish this state of mind on those who’ve been out there in the job market looking for something that doesn’t exist. They haven’t been able to replace that job they were last in. They’ve lost hope and are feeling badly about their circumstances. Yet in the midst of their angst, maybe there’s a different way to approach it, like trying a different field, going back to school to get trained in another area. They can start rebuilding their careers in a new way.

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Taking the time

Doing career coaching, I’m faced at times with the difficult choices people have to make. A venture capital person is living in a city that doesn’t offer the same opportunities he’s been used to. He’s working, his family is happy, he’s just not pursuing that same business as before. In time he comes to accept it and realize he’s traded off something, yet he’s never spent so much time with his kids.

So we’re getting the sense that ‘washed’ means different from before, maybe reconsidering strategies, or just enjoying life in a new way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your professional life is over; it’s morphing into something kinder and gentler to use older phraseology. It might be evolution. You’re making peace with who you are and finding a way to adapt yourself. I like the phrase ‘reasonable accommodation’ for this new existence has its roots in the prior one, but you’re handling it differently. You may not be giving up what you did; you’re finding a new application of your talents.

Rebecca Onion says the ‘washed’ are comfortable. She feels that like Baron, she spent years building something which enables her to take a step in a new direction. I can only wish that clients would embrace this relaxed approach to figuring out what they will do with their lives in the way that I have done personally. I am doing things that I never did before but I’m also doing some things that I did at the beginning of my career, like teaching languages, and enjoying them more. I guess you can color my brand ‘washed’.

Written by

Marylou Ponzi Kay is a career coach and HR consultant. She is the author of Powering Up Your Inner Brand, available at .

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