Happier at Work – Episode 31, Aoife O’Brien
Play • 45 mins

Aoife O'Brien, host of The Happier at Work Podcast, gets on the other side of the mic as guest in episode 31 of The Changed Podcast with Aden Nepom. We discuss, adventure, risk-taking, taking yourself by the hand instead of waiting, and of course... what it means to be changed.

Aoife O'Brien has had many adventures, having traveled to all seven continents... even Antarctica! However, she is quick to confess that even as an adventurous person change can feel rather difficult at times.

She has a Masters in Organizational Behavior, a degree which she completed during lockdown, and is passionate (like I am) about creating happier workplace dynamics. In fact, when Aoife and I spoke on her show (you can listen to that episode of the Happier at Work Podcast here!) it felt very much like meeting my long-lost twin but with different areas of expertise. While I have a background in improvisation, play, and facilitation, Aoife has a background in data and analysis.

In our conversation on the Changed Podcast which we recorded back in February of this year (2021), Aoife O'Brien talks a bit about what it means to be an entrepreneur, both the inspiration and the reality behind the choice to leave working in a corporate environment in order to pursue being one's own boss. We also discuss the helpful practice of journaling through difficult changes; and the realization that when it comes to the big bold moves, you cannot wait for someone else to come take you by the hand, and lead you where you want to go.

Takeaways from our conversation

For all you solopreneurs out there... we see you. We are you! You're working hard. Harder than you might have expected. But if you're like us, doing what you love doesn't really feel like work. Still, strive for balance! Don't let yourself get stuck on defining yourself as 'busy!'

And for those of you considering leaving your salaried positions to venture forth on your own, here are some things to consider:

  • How much of your burnout is because of how you are choosing to work vs what your employer is asking you to do?
  • What is the story you are living inside of?
  • The market for what you want to offer people as a service or product is already saturated. That being said you are certainly the only you out there, and that is its own unique value proposition. Reaching your ideal customers or clients though means that just knowing what value you can provide to people isn't enough on its own. You'll need other important skills or resources! So, What do you know about marketing, PR, web design and maintenance, creating contracts, creating a business plan, and more? How much are you willing to learn and do and/or what kind of budget do you have to hire all of the people needed to perform these tasks?

Not everyone wants the same things that you do. Not everyone interprets the options in the way that you do. You are the only one who truly understands what you want and need or who can view your particular moment or situation with your instincts for action. Like in improv, when you have the thought that something should be happening, or that somebody ought to be making something happen... that somebody is you!

Journaling is a great way to process change. I tried desperately to find the journaling process that I found so impactful when my first marriage came to a close so that I could share it with you. Unfortunately, too much time has passed and I cannot find the original piece! BUT here is my rough memory of the prompts that were most helpful.

Journaling prompts to help you heal from a divorce or breakup (These prompts (minus #3) can be used to process the end of any kind of relationship… even business. the idea is to simply create lists that you could refer back to and reflect. Embarking on this kind of process can take days or weeks. It is recommended to fully complete one step before moving to the next.)

  1. What do you love about this person?
  2. What will you miss about the relationship?
  3. What was the sex like?
  4. What are the memories you want to keep?
  5. What are elements of your relationship that you are eager to say goodbye to?
  6. What was broken in your relationship that you successfully repaired?
  7. What did it take to repair those things?
  8. What were the elements of your relationship that were broken beyond repair?
  9. What were all the things you tried in order to fix what was broken, that did not work?
  10. What are things you are unwilling to try to save the relationship?
  11. What have you learned about yourself by being in this partnership?
  12. What can you thank this relationship for giving or teaching you?
  13. Moving forward, what would an ideal partnership look like for you?
  14. What are you excited about?

Book Recommendations

Aoife O’Brien recommended two books:

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. Whatever your feelings are about the current brand and its global presence, this book will certainly give you a lot to think about regarding business growth and taking big bold risks.
  • How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith. Sally and Marshall identify the twelve habits that hold women back as they seek to advance, showing them why what worked for them in the past might actually be sabotaging their future success.

I will throw in one more: Waking Up by Sam Harris. Throughout this book, Harris argues that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow and that how we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the quality of our lives.

looking to order books? I suggest Powell’s Books here in Portland, Oregon, or Book Woman in Austin, Texas.

Did you enjoy this conversation?

You might also enjoy episode 14 with Apryl Zarate Schlueter or episode 9 with Gary Ware, both of whom are entrepreneurs out there finding balance for themselves and their clients.

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