If you look on Instagram, it feels like everyone is zooming up the charts, getting promotions, getting married, constantly moving forward at high speed. Well, maybe not high speed, but faster than you.
In your life, things don’t feel like they quite have the same momentum. But the reality is, what you see on social media is the highlight reel. It’s not the truth of their experience.
Everybody feels stuck. Everybody feels itchy for greater success or for what’s next. No matter how ambitious and successful you are, chances are you’ve had moments where you feel unsure of your next steps, or like something or someone is blocking you from getting to the next level.
“I’ll tell you first of all that so many of the women who have been around my table at my Badass Babes dinners are game changing chicks. But by the time we are fifteen minutes into the conversation and we’ve had a pizza and a couple of glasses of wine they tell me they feel stuck,” shared Ann Shoket in our phone conversation just ahead of our panel event on this very topic.
“This [can happen to] women at [any] stage of their career,” she added.
Shoket knows this for sure. Ann Shoket is the author of THE BIG LIFE Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the BADASS BABE You Were Meant to Be. She’s the former Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen Magazine and helped launch CosmoGIRL. So she’s no stranger to diving deep into conversations around insecurities, confidence, and figuring out life as a young woman.
On top of that, since stepping down from her role at Seventeen, she’s become the founder of a community called Badass Babes, where among other things she hosts regular dinners with the community to talk about what they want in life, and dig into what might be stopping them from getting there so they can map out the steps to overcome it and become their best selves.
“The first question I always ask around my dinner table is if I could solve one problem for you what would it be? Everyone’s problem is usually [rooted in] something that’s standing in their way between them and the life and they know they deserve.”
As accomplished as she is today, Shoket recalls a pivotal moment in her life and career where she felt stuck. During that time she learned an uncomfortable lesson in patience.
“There was a period in my career where I wasn’t moving ahead the way I wanted to. I wasn’t making the money that I wanted to make. I moved out of that early hustle, hustle, hustle stage where you’ll do anything to put some points on the board. I had a little bit of success under my belt. I was at this time at CosmoGIRL, [as] a deputy editor. I started to get what I describe as the itch.”
This itch, Shoket describes as the feeling that there’s something more, something better, something else out there. She felt it in her personal life too.
“I was single and I wasn’t connecting with anyone who I thought was meaningful or important to me. I was itchy to have a partner in my life. [And] I was feeling it in my living situation. I was living in a 350 square foot apartment on the Lower East Side in Manhattan with one sink. I brushed my teeth standing next to my stove for ten years.”
She was itchy for more. Although on the surface, as the deputy editor for a magazine she helped launch at a major publishing company and someone who had her own apartment it seemed like all was wonderful and great in her world.
For her living situation, Shoket tried for months to convince her landlord to let her move into the bigger apartment. It didn’t work and at the 18 month mark she recognized the only thing she could do was move. She could not make that situation work.
But her approach at work was different.
“I was loving the work I was doing but I wasn’t moving up or moving around. I had to sit there and be patient. The same thing happened with dating. There was nothing more I could do to bring a man into my life that I wanted to spend time with. I was going out all the time. I was dating everybody, I was meeting everyone, I was saying yes to every opportunity. There was nothing more I could do.”
All these three things converged at the same moment in her life. It was a very uncomfortable period of time. She was succeeding and doing every single thing right. She was working hard, but still couldn’t get the needle to move forward.
“Sometimes the world just has to rotate a couple of times for opportunities to come your way. And slowly I got unstuck. I became executive editor at CosmoGIRL. I finally made enough money to be able to afford to move to a bigger apartment.”
As far as a partner, it took a little while longer to come but having some of those other personal successes under her belt helped her feel more confident in relationships.
So, ultimately, how did she get unstuck and create opportunity?
“I don’t know if it was terribly strategic but I tried everything. I just continued to dig in deeper at the opportunities that were in front of me.”
Here are a few things Shoket did to create opportunity in this itchy moment of feeling stuck:
1. Test The Waters:
“I applied for other jobs and had other job interviews. It’s always a good idea if you’re feeling stuck to go test the waters and see who else is interested in you. I had other job interviews but nothing felt right to me, nothing connected. Sometimes it works that way. I loved what I was doing and I felt like the work I was doing was meaningful which mattered to me.”
2. Volunteer For Projects At Work:
“You have to figure out what matters most to you. I was able to feel satisfied and I think the tipping point at work was I started to volunteer for new projects and new opportunities. I kept my ear open for new things that were happening and what projects I could take on.”
3 Create A Halo, Have Patience:
“It’s not a straight line. It’s not like I volunteered for XYZ project and took on XYZ campaign and that got me unstuck. But I think by volunteering to take on new projects and to be seen as someone who was hungry and ambitious and dynamic and had new ideas, it had a halo effect. People think of you and even if there’s not the right opportunity at that time, when the world rotates and suddenly the opportunity comes around people see you in that light. And maybe you wouldn’t get the opportunity down the road if you didn’t put in the time and the effort early on.”
4. Check Yourself:
“Sometimes you’re stuck for a long time and there is nothing you can do. And you should check yourself. Are you doing everything you can do to get unstuck? Women tell me that their boss is standing in their way. Their boss doesn’t see them in the way that they want to be seen, or giving them the opportunities they want to have.
Sometimes women tell me when when it comes to dating, they’re dating like mad and sometimes I say ‘maybe you should date less.’ Maybe investing quality over quantity is the key. There’s a million ways in which you can get stuck. But first check yourself. Are you really doing everything you can? Have you thought all the angles all the way through to get yourself unstuck. Are you willing to take the risk to move cities to try different strategies on dating?”
This post is sponsored by our friends at Secret Deodorant. Secret was the first antiperspirant brand designed specifically for women, and for the past 60 years, Secret has been on the forefront of women’s lives, leading with innovation designed to provide superior odor and wetness protection. Through the years, the brand has been supporting women’s advancement by portraying confident, modern women in its campaigns and communications. As a continuation of these efforts, the brand’s newest campaign, “Stress Tested for Women,” celebrates progressive young women as they deal with the stress sweat caused by the pressures of today’s world. For more information visit Secret.com, or follow Secret on Facebook (Facebook.com/Secret), Twitter (@SecretDeodorant), Instagram (@SecretDeodorant) and YouTube (YouTube.com/SecretDeodorant).
Thoughts, opinions and advice presented here are independent of the brand. Meet Ann in person at tonight’s #HerAgendaLive event.