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Growth Mindset for Big Life Changes

Over the past year, my journey has been woven with diverse experiences. Transitioning from the comfort of my virtual home office to full-time work outside following an extended parental leave marked a significant shift. Amid this, I faced the complexities of a divorce, the sale of my house, and a move – collectively shaping a year that can only be described as profoundly challenging.

Within this tapestry, threads of overwhelm, frustration, shame, and despair were interwoven with equal parts joy, clarity, purpose, and strength. I discovered how much capacity I have and how resilient I am. I learned that my capacity and resilience only go so far, and from there, I need to be vulnerable enough to ask for help from others. I realized that I am capable of almost anything but can’t do it alone.

As this tumultuous year comes to a close – and yet, I managed to navigate it all in one piece  – I reflect on the profound lessons it has imparted. I learned that work relationships, culture, and support systems are invaluable in learning, growing, and maturing. Whether you’re returning to work after an extended leave, switching companies, or navigating the complexities of life while working, I offer the following suggestions to navigate the transition with heart.

Build relationships that support mutual learning, growth, and contribution to the greater purpose.

Your colleagues, clients, and associates are part of your community, friends, and extended family. You spend a lot of time engaging with and interacting with them – so take this amazing opportunity to connect with them. You will enjoy your work and be able to collaborate that much more effectively if you have deep relationships. These are the people who see you for all you’re capable of. They see your strengths; they know what challenges you. Seek them out for guidance, feedback, mentoring, and support. Offer to do the same for them. And have some fun together while doing it! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Be yourself: Be honest, be vulnerable.

This is not the time to fake it ’til you make it. You will waste more energy than you probably have trying to pretend to be something you’re not. Let people in on the real, whole human that you are. Life is big, beautiful, and messy – chances are you have some colleagues who can relate to the struggle that it is to focus when your brain is crowded with many new priorities and things to think about. They might have some advice; they might be able to listen and hold space for whatever is distracting you so you can refocus. If you allow someone to do that for you, it invites others to trust you to do the same for them, and suddenly, you have this connected, psychologically safe work culture where people feel cared about and accepted – and don’t we wish that for everyone? The best results come from teams that feel safe and connected, so you’re just leading the way to better team results by being honest about who you are, where you’re winning, and where you’re struggling. So, the next time someone asks how you’re doing, be honest.

Take care of yourself.

Reintegrating into work, especially with the additional demands and challenges brought about by family or other life stressors, may lead you to adopt a scarcity mindset. This mindset can convince you that you need to extract maximum productivity from every available moment, often causing self-care to be neglected or overlooked. However, sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is stop and do what you need to do to take care of yourself – whether moving, sleeping, socializing, meditating, eating, or whatever works for you. I had a meeting recently with a colleague, and it became clear that I felt overwhelmed and too unfocused to proceed with a project. “Take a walk!” she told me. I took a 20-minute walk, returned, and quickly completed the same project I’d been distractedly staring at on and off all day in about 15 minutes. It made me realize that “work time” isn’t just time in front of my computer. I think a lot about challenges and new strategies or ways to approach things when I’m out for a hike or a bike ride. My body is in motion, the bilateral stimulation is engaging both sides of my brain, and suddenly, my mind starts humming with its best thinking. The value you can contribute is far more important than the hours you put into doing it.

Ask for help. Accept help.

This has been a massive learning for me. It is hard for me to admit that I need help. I don’t like feeling like I’m inconveniencing people on top of admitting I don’t know how to do something. I can get caught up in the drama of feeling like I’m already the weakest link because I have all these other commitments around kid schedules and the fatigue and lack of focus that can come with adjusting to the new balance of being a single parent who is also working outside of the home. When I delay in asking for help, it just delays me from getting that work done and dilutes the power of the service I can provide. Then I really am inconveniencing others! Ask for help and accept that help once it’s been offered. You are so much more powerful in what you contribute and how you serve with the collective wisdom, skillset, and effort of your team and the others in your life alongside you.

Create structure, routines, and rituals that will support your success.

Just like it can be impossible to get three kids off to school on time if I don’t have a plan for breakfast, getting lunches packed, and clean clothes available for them to wear, it can be easy to spend the day stuck in my inbox and spinning if I don’t have a plan set out for myself. Decision fatigue is real, and the more I accept that decision-making is labor and make those decisions ahead of time, the more I can get right to the work I need to do and have the brain power to access more strategic thinking at that moment. Spending time monthly to check in on my Best Year Yet® goal and project progress and then taking the initiative at least weekly to do some project and task prioritizing and planning in my Effective EDGE® system can make a huge difference. If I know my goals and deadlines and make a plan to accomplish them, I can jump into action rather than drowning in the “where am I on this and what should I do next and what are we having for dinner?” conundrum.

Give yourself grace.

Every day, I need to remind myself not to compare my current self to who I used to be. I used to happily facilitate middle-of-the-night classes for groups on the other side of the globe multiple days a week. I could tirelessly focus for hours straight on completing projects. I attached my identity to being a dedicated workaholic in a company trying to teach people not to be workaholics. I can no longer be that person, and the more time I spend with this imperfect version of myself, the more I dig into how real, silly, and honest I am. As a colleague told me the other day, I can better relate to and understand all of the life our clients are dealing with because of the experience I now bring to serving them. I have discovered how incredible my capacity and resilience are, and I can see that strength in others and help them see it in themselves.

As we look ahead, let’s carry the practical lessons from this year into our future endeavors. Appreciate the strengths and skills each of us brings to the table. Let the challenges we face be a guide for building resilience, empathy, and personal growth. This way, we can work towards a future filled with more robust connections, better understanding, and collective achievements.



Author – Robin Doss, InteraWorks Relationship Lead


About InteraWorks

InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals and teams, including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent, and energy to produce results that matter most. 


We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.