Life Purpose: We’re being reminded of the fragility of life, that we truly don’t know how long we have — and that we’ve got to make the most of our time here on Earth. This reminder has already got people examining who they are and how they’re showing up, and the impact they want to make in this lifetime
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen Zavo.
Kristen Zavo is a Career Coach, Keynote Speaker, and the Best-Selling author of Job Joy: Your Guide to Success, Meaning, and Happiness in Your Career. She is on a mission to help unfulfilled high achievers find work and build careers (and lives!) they absolutely love. Over the course of her career, she has spent nearly two decades in traditional corporate jobs (including time in investment banking, consulting and industry), working for some of the top Fortune 500 companies such as Lehman Brothers, NBC and Luxottica. Kristen earned her MBA in Finance and BS in Marketing and Psychology, summa cum laude, from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She is also a Certified Life Coach. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Business News Daily, The Ladders, and more — as well as on podcasts and stages covering career, success and finding life’s purpose.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
As with many entrepreneurs, it was my own experience and frustrations that brought me to my life’s work. After nearly two decades in traditional corporate roles, with multiple career changes, I finally figured out why I wasn’t happy, despite my outward success — and what to do about it.
After a big career change, many started asking me how I did it and if I could help them — and my coaching business was born. I decided to write a book, Job Joy, to serve as guide — and shortcut — for other unfulfilled high achievers, so they too could find career fulfillment. Since then, I’ve gone full-time in my business as a career coach and speaker. I couldn’t be happier — I get to do work I love while helping others do the same!
As my clients soon find out, this work is about way more than landing the job. That’s because when we learn to design our career for ultimate fulfillment, impact, and happiness — we realize we can do the same in the rest of our lives. This has a ripple effect and makes for happier, more on-purpose, can’t-be-stopped game changers who will impact the world for the better — and inspire others to do the same.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I’m a big fan of Wayne Dyer’s classic book, Pulling Your Own Strings, so much so that I re-read it every couple years. It’s a book about defining success and living life on your own terms. It’s a great read for people-pleasers and high-achievers who fear that making their own decisions and standing up for themselves will inconvenience or anger others.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- A Rise in Community: This crisis has the potential to bring us all closer together (it already has!), to have us really value the gift of community. I see it now with online groups popping up as a result of social isolation. Once we are out of our houses, I fully expect in-person communities to increase and deepen. In a world where we’re “connected” to so many online, but still feel so alone, this is important and needed.
- Reverence for Mother Nature: We’re gaining a renewed respect and appreciation for nature. We see it in the news already — how resilient our planet is (The skies over China are clear and the water runs clear — with dolphins! — in the canals of Venice!). With less places to go and things to do, we’re building gardens, taking more walks, spending time outside daily, and taking pleasure in the little things that would normally go unnoticed, like the sound of birds and the budding of trees.
- More Flexibility at Work: In the long run, we’ll see even more flexibility at work. Right now, most organizations have no choice but to figure out how to make remote work effective. This is our opportunity to leverage technology and innovate to get our jobs done with even more ease and speed. I expect that many companies, who haven’t already, will adopt at least a partial work-from-home policy. This is great news for organizations who can save money by having less people onsite, and employees who can have more flexibility and autonomy by not being tied to a location.
- Authentic Leadership: I’m already seeing a rise in generous, authentic, non-hierarchical leadership. For once, no one has all the answers (or can pretend to). We’re getting outside of ourselves, doing our best, and seeking to serve in our own unique way — whether it’s sewing face masks, holding online trainings to cope during these times, or hosting creativity circles to bring levity to the heaviness we all feel.
- Life Purpose: We’re being reminded of the fragility of life, that we truly don’t know how long we have — and that we’ve got to make the most of our time here on Earth. This reminder has already got people examining who they are and how they’re showing up, and the impact they want to make in this lifetime. I see it in my clients already, who are now for the first time, actually considering complete career changes that seemed too scary and impractical before.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Presence: Just being with someone and hearing them out, without the need to fix, is one of the best gifts we can give another.
- Acceptance: Being okay with how both we, and others, are feeling and coping. We’re all doing our best.
- Authenticity: Know that you don’t need to be perfect in order to support others. It’s okay to get messy, to be emotional, to admit you’re worried. In fact, your ability to share your own experience authentically will allow others to connect and feel less alone.
- Service (without expectation): Ask yourself how you, with your unique gifts, can be a source of good throughout all of this.
- Self-Care — physical, emotional, mental, spiritual: We can’t give to others if our own cup isn’t full.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
I recommend leaning on friends and community, continuing therapy online, taking good care of your body via quality food and movement, making a concerted effort to find joy in the everyday, and mindfulness practices like journaling and meditating.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” by George Eliot is one of my all-time favorite quotes. I remember coming across it when I was in a dark place, questioning it all — especially my career path. I was successful by all outside measures, living in New York City, with an impressive job, fancy clothes and great pay. But I was the unhappiest I had ever been. And yet, with almost 10 years in Finance, I thought it was too late to make a change. This quote served as a reminder and inspiration that it is never too late to go after your dreams — and to figure out what they are in the first place!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
It’s the movement I’ve already started with the work I do with my clients everyday. I want everyone to know that no matter their circumstances, it is never too late to find work they love — work that is fulfilling and impactful, work where they’re seen, heard, valued and appreciated, work where they’re most on purpose and can share their gifts with the world. We all deserve this. And it’s our responsibility. No more hiding. Now, more than ever, the world needs us to step up!
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Connect with me on social media — I’m most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. For more support, download my free “COVID & Your Career” Mini-Training, covering topics like productivity, leadership, job search, and entrepreneurship HERE.