Winnie Tang, Career Pivot Coach & Biz Strategist: How Journaling Helped Me Be More Calm, Mindful And Resilient
An Interview With Heidi Sander
… Ground yourself when you feel anxious: getting your emotions out of your head and onto paper helps alleviate the immense overwhelm. You’re giving them an outlet.
Journaling is a powerful tool to gain clarity and insight especially during challenging times of loss and uncertainty. Writing can cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and provide an outlet for calmness, resilience and mindfulness. When my mom passed on, I found writing to be cathartic. When I read through my journal years later, there were thoughts that I developed into poems, and others that simply provided a deeper insight into myself. In this series I’m speaking with people who use journaling to become more mindful and resilient.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Winnie Tang.
Winnie Tang is a career pivot coach and business strategist who made several job switches during her 15-year career working for various small and multinational organisations across industries. After surviving a severe traffic accident in 2018, she left London to make her dream of working for herself come true. She loves blending her background in research, strategy and tech to help clients redesign their careers and businesses to create the type of work that resonates and slots into their lives. Find out more at winnietang.co.uk.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story of healing. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?
I was born in Germany and grew up in a small town in Bavaria. We were the only Asian family in the area. After I finished grammar school, I moved to the UK where I did both my grad and post-grad degree (Social Research) at Birmingham University. I then got a job in London where I spent the next 15 years working for the big multinationals but also smaller organisations. I made a few career switches because I could never stick to one thing long enough to become a specialist to climb up the corporate ladder. I actually enjoyed it more to move sideways because I was interested in so many things. Maybe that’s the reason why my favourite job was working in tech. It’s a field with constant changes so it never gets boring. And my role in Product Management meant I could combine lots of different disciplines and skillsets. Only in the last year or so, did I realise there’s a term for people like me, someone who has many interests and find it hard to fit neatly into a traditional career box: a creative generalist or a multi-passionate.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about journaling. Have you been writing in your journal for a long time or was there a challenging situation that prompted you to start journal writing? If you feel comfortable sharing the situation with us, it could help other readers.
Actually, I was never really into journaling!
The only times I ever did journal was when I was going through a bad breakup. But once I felt better, I dropped it. So it was never something that was consistent.
However, when I started working for myself, journaling really became a habit. I actually enjoy it now.
I have a biz journal and that’s really part of my business process. I think as an entrepreneur, journaling has helped me stay focused, reflect on lessons learnt, wins, highlights etc. And especially as a one-person business, you have to focus on the things that matter and be picky about how to apply yourself, or else you’re going to burn out very quickly. Journaling helps me take stock. And that’s actually something I picked up when I was still working in Product.
The other part of my journaling is based on Internal Family Systems.
IFS is an evidence-based model of psychotherapy, that believes we’re made up of parts and sub-personalities. And IFS journaling is about connecting and writing to different parts within yourself.
I’ve always been interested in psychology, in how we work, how the mind works etc. So when a friend introduced me to the concept of IFS, I was curious, and I started to learn more about it.
How did journaling help you heal, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
With IFS journaling, I was no longer just “offloading” my feelings. It’s also digging deep and having a conversation with a part of me to understand it better. Ultimately, it’s about me gaining a better understanding of myself. I think healing happens from the inside out.
IFS journaling is generally something you can do by yourself without a therapist. For me personally, it has definitely made a difference in my life and has helped me work on my “entrepreneurial mindset”.
Journaling for me these days is a very proactive approach.
Did journaling help you find more self-compassion and gratitude? Can you share a story about that?
For example, I’d always felt very self-conscious about putting myself out there, about being seen. And I felt that was partly also what was holding me back in my corporate career. It wasn’t just about being shy or being an introvert. I’m still all that. And that’s ok. But now working for myself, I have to be ok about putting myself and my work out there. And doing it in a way that’s comfortable and authentically me.
Through my ISF journaling, I understood where this discomfort came from. There was nothing “wrong” with me. It wasn’t about “fixing” something. Just understanding the origin of the discomfort and connecting with it, has helped me move past it. And that feels very liberating.
What kind of content goes into your journal? For example, do you free-write, write poems, doodle?
I free-write. But I also doodle, use colouring pencils and mind maps. Mind mapping helps me organise my thoughts and ideas. I do have more than one journal!
How did you gain a different perspective on life and your emotions while writing in your journal? Can you please share a story about what you mean?
I think journaling has helped me a lot in making sense of myself and how I “function”. It has helped me reframe and see things, including myself, from different perspectives. And that has made me more confident and self-compassionate. When we can truly understand the person that we are, and we embrace that, we have this natural confidence in ourselves that extends to other areas in our lives. There’s less second-guessing, and that’s very freeing. For example, doing a mid-career change from employee to entrepreneur as I did, it’s not just about learning new skills and changing your mindset, it’s also about shifting parts of your identity.
In my own journal writing, I ended up creating poems from some of the ideas and one of them won an award. Do you have plans with your journal content?
I’m a big believer in making self-reflection a part of your business process, and that’s something I advocate in my eBook as well. It’s very much based on how I use journaling in my own business to become a more efficient and happier entrepreneur.
I also believe that my journaling helps me be a better coach.
Fantastic. Here is our main question. In my journaling program, I have found that journaling can help people to become more calm, mindful and resilient. Based on your experience and research, can you please share with our readers “five ways that journaling can help you to be more calm, mindful and resilient”?
Based on my journaling experience, I believe journaling can help you
- Ground yourself when you feel anxious: getting your emotions out of your head and onto paper helps alleviate the immense overwhelm. You’re giving them an outlet.
- Find solutions: once you write down your problem, when no solution is coming to you straight away, put it away and do something else. Your subconscious will start to work in the background, and something will come to you
- Reduce stress by reflecting and focusing on the present rather than staying in the past or projecting onto the future.
- Free yourself from the fear of failure and find the courage to move forward even if the road ahead isn’t all clear. Look inside you by writing. Investigate. Put things into perspective.
- Take leadership of “You”: By being honest with yourself and taking responsibility for yourself, you play a proactive role in shaping your thoughts and actions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of peace to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
I think, we could probably do more with taking a moment to pause before we speak. Often we don’t realise how much unnecessary hurt we’re causing others with our words. Words can carry a lot of weight, are mighty powerful and can be used to effect positive change but crush people, too. So recognising how powerful our words can be and using them wisely and in a thoughtful manner might be something we could all do a bit more.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)
I’d love to meet Celeste Barber. I love that she’s been putting laughter into the world. I think the world needs more of that. It’s serious enough as it is. She makes me laugh every time she pops up on my feed and I’d love to get to know the person behind the posts and the mick-taking…
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I write on my blog on winnietang.co.uk/blog and also recently published an ebook about how to get the things done that matter to your biz (inspired by my time working in tech). And obviously, there’s Instagram!
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued fulfilment and success with your writing!