It takes tremendous courage to leave behind a career when you’ve spent years working to achieve your goals, but your job has become a source of negativity that has caused you to burnout. Emilie Aries is a powerhouse who earned her B.A. from Brown University and studied organizing on a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. After graduating, she served as the youngest state director for Organizing for America in 2009 and 2010, a position she said was her dream job.
However, during this time she began to completely neglect her own needs. The same skills that had served her well as a student to push through the sprint to the semester finish line and to go that extra mile to earn an “A” caused her to burnout in “the marathon that is a career.” She, like many millennials, developed a belief that happiness and free time was something for people who weren’t busy and weren’t passionately committed to their career. However, she quickly learned that people who are happy and satisfied are better workers and have better careers.
“It’s [about] creating space, time, and tactics that work for you for self reflection and drilling down on what it is you want out of this life,” she said. “Time is precious and it is our most limited resource. How you spend your days matters because the years fly by, even when the days crawl by.”
Being able to seperate what you want from what you have been trained to think you want is a long and difficult process. In order to do this, Aries identified within herself what her goals are and chose to craft a life that she was truly passionate about rather than continue following a path she felt she should follow.
“I left my job because it wasn’t speaking to my true purpose,” she said. Aries left Rhode Island and moved to D.C. where she began her career as a digital media specialist. This courage to leave the beaten path involved making herself vulnerable. As Brené Brown, a social psychologist, discussed during her popular Ted Talk, in many ways vulnerability is a prerequisite to joy and happiness in this world. If you’re not brave enough to take a risk to follow your passion and face the possibility of failure, you’ll never know the feeling of achieving your dream.
“During my great period of transition, I really felt like isolation was a challenge,” Aries said. She therefore became dedicated to helping others craft a life in which they feel supported, take care of their basic needs, and develop a community that supports their goals. Thinking about love and relationships, including friendships, became the underpinnings of her passion project.
She recently launched a women’s empowerment training organization, Bossed Up, which focuses on providing hands-on, personalized training to help ambitious women craft happy, healthy, and sustainable careers. Aries wants to see more women in the workplace for the longterm. She shared three steps that she feels are key for being able to elevate your career, take risks, and have courage on Levo League’s Office Hours:
- Connect with others
- Set ambitious goals
- Come up with plans to achieve them
However, in order to avoid career burnout while working to advance and elevate your career, Aries suggests finding a space to ask questions and reflect, evaluate how you’re feeling, and then drill down and honor those feelings in order to understand what is leading you to make those choices. Women in general tend to be very good at basing their choices on their research and rational conclusions, but Aries argues that it is equally important to focus on emotional decision making.
Aries summed up her Office Hours by referencing a quote from her mother that she strives to live by to this day: “Keep your eyes wide open, fire in your belly, and no fear.”
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