Three Ways You Can Turn Lemons Into Lemonade

February 8, 2022

Marni Gordon

When I was laid off from my job in media planning during the 2009 recession, it was a dark and scary time.  I had no idea what was next for me.  If I didn’t find something else in the next few months, we wouldn’t be able to pay our mortgage. My daughter was in preschool and I needed to figure out how to “keep it together” on the outside so she didn’t see that her mom was falling apart on the inside.  

I stayed in bed for the first week after hearing the news.  It felt like I was in mourning after losing a loved one and went through all of the stages of grief.  I was in denial. I was angry.  Some of my friends took it personally when I wasn’t my usual happy and positive self.

Turning Sour Lemons Into Sweet Lemonade

Losing my job made me realize how important it is to take care of your physical and mental health through self-care.  I slowly built a new routine which included time for job searching as well as some fun activities like going to spin class or meeting friends for coffee.  I realized that it’s okay to be nice to yourself, especially during tough times, because beating yourself up isn’t going to help you get a job any faster.

Here are three ways to turn sour lemons into sweet lemonade through self-care:

  • Plan fun activities into your schedule.  Amy Morin from Insider mentions the term "pleasant activity scheduling" which is “identifying an activity you want to do and putting it in your calendar.  It could be as simple as choosing a time to watch a movie at home. Even if you live alone, put it on your calendar. The key is to schedule it in the future so you have something to look forward to.”  I enjoy working out at Pure Barre and plan out my classes for the week in my calendar to have something fun to look forward to.
  • Nurture your relationships.  Morin writes  “it's important to invest time into the important relationships in your life.  Whether that means taking time to have a date night with your partner or it means inviting your friends for a weekly dinner night, spend quality time with people you care about.  I’m a big coffee fan and set up “coffee chats” either in-person or through Zoom to catch up with friends, current and past colleagues, and people that I’d like to catch up with from my network.
  • Help others.  Helping others will make you feel good physically and emotionally.  Morin states “When you're kind to someone, your brain releases feel good hormones, like endorphins and oxytocin. You'll boost your own mood as well as the mood of the person you're giving to.”  During the pandemic, helping other people during their own job transition was my “COVID lifeline”.  It gave me a sense of purpose and a reason to connect with other people and ultimately led to my decision to become a career and executive coach.

Incorporating some of these self-care rituals into your weekly routine is a great way to turn any sour lemons you may have into the best tasting pitcher of lemonade!

5 Simple Ways to Honor and Improve Your Mental Health, According to a Psychotherapist  (Business Insider)

Getting Sleep is Not Enough

We think we are rested because we have gotten enough sleep.  However, we are actually missing out on the other types of rest we really need in the seven key areas of our life.  I can definitely use more rest in all seven areas, but I especially need more mental rest as it is very hard to shut off my thoughts throughout the night.

The 7 Types of Rest That Every Person Needs (Ideas.Ted)

Put Your Own Mask On First

In an airplane safety demonstration, we are reminded that in case of an emergency, you should put on your mask first before assisting others. It is also important for leaders to get in this mindset and build their own self-care routine as their stress will affect the rest of their team.

The 5 Rules of Self-care for Great Leaders (Fast Company)

Stop Beating Yourself Up

As Lauren Herring from Forbes mentions “In order to ensure a healthy job search, first and foremost, practice self-care during this challenging time.”  Searching for a job takes an emotional toll, especially with ghosting and rejection, and it’s important to be kind to yourself.

Are You Managing Your Job Search Or Is It Managing You?  (Forbes)

Career Chat with ..... Carly Feinstein

Each week, I’m going to chat with someone in our marketing community to learn from their career journey.  This week I spoke with Carly Feinstein Director Financial Operations at GroupM to learn more about her perspective on the importance of self-care.

Q:  How did you start your career in marketing?

A:  I started my marketing career by chance, due to my naïveté. I had studied “applied social sciences” as an undergraduate.  My plan was to get a Masters in Education and be a teacher.  But my wise mother told me not to hide in school. She advised me to get a job in an industry that I found interesting so that I could get some work and life experience - and make some money.  She said that school would always be there.  If education was my calling, it would happen.  I am a big fan of entertainment - TV,  Live Theater, Radio, and movies.  So I went to some headhunters - that’s what you did back in 1996 - and asked for jobs in the entertainment business.  They all laughed in my face and told me I’d have to move to the West Coast.  Since I wanted to stay in NY, they said the closest thing would be the Advertising biz. I got my first job as an administrative assistant at a media agency and immediately fell in love with media planning.  It may not have been Hollywood but it gave me the perfect mix for a first job - great people, fun atmosphere, math and strategy.  This taught me the basics of business and collaboration.  The variety of experiences was energizing and motivating.  I rarely got bored.  And when I did, I asked for more responsibility.  About 6 or 7 years in, I was elevated to meetings and responsibilities that required knowledge that marketing and business undergraduates had learned that I had not.  So I went for a MBA to fill in those gaps. Another wonderful experience.  And I didn’t give up on that teaching career, I just modified it.  I sought out teaching opportunities throughout my career like training, mentoring and establishing operations.  

Q:  Why is self-care important to you?

A:  I didn’t learn about self-care until I was 42 dealing with a family crisis in therapy. My family and I are very open about our mental health journeys.  I didn’t realize how much of my life had been wasted on debilitating anxiety and pleasing people. I finally learned that I need to take care of myself in order to be the wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend that I wanted to be.  My anxiety made me moody and frankly, not fun to be around.  At work it caused me to constantly wonder if I was meeting expectations of my team, my bosses and my clients.  It was loads of unnecessary stress that I was causing myself - and likely others.  So self care means that by taking care of myself, I am the best version of myself for me and for those around me.  A weight has been lifted off of me since my self care journey began.  You often hear people say that they don’t have time for themselves.  Make time. As I mentioned, I love math and numbers.  While this is a qualitative topic, you can easily quantify it. The rewards that come from converting one hour of stress, worry and planning into taking care of yourself is limitless.  My hour goes to swimming.  It helps me both physically and mentally. 

Q:  What is your perspective about the importance of self-care during job transition?

A:  You caught me at a perfect time to ask this question.  Unbeknownst to you when you asked me to do this interview, I accepted a job offer this week.  This job will be a huge transition for me.  Going from running my own business and having complete control over my schedule to having a boss and a team will be a big change for me.  At first I worried about how I would fit in my self care.  But then I remembered that it’s no different than anything else.  I just need to continue to make it a priority, schedule it and set some boundaries at my new job.  I will wake up earlier or block my calendar each day - whether it’s to get my activity in, attend a therapy session, or meditate, do something with my kids or simply go grocery shopping.   If COVID taught us nothing else, it taught us that flexibility is easier than anyone ever thought.  In a job, a person should be focused on expectations - getting their work done, attending meetings, and achieving goals and success metrics.  Nowhere in that list does it say those things are required between the hours of 9 and 5.  

Q:  How do you practice self-care?

A:  I DO a lot of things to take care of myself - go to the gym, see a therapist, hang out with friends, spend time with my husband and kids, enjoy fine dining, treat myself to theater tickets or MZ Wallace bags a couple times a year and more.  But most importantly, I made the mindset change that I am just as important as everyone else, therefore I needed to stop putting everyone else first.  I live by the mantra “after me, you come first”.  This doesn’t make me selfish or self centered.  It just reminds me of my self worth.  

Q:  What are the top lessons learned that other marketers can take away from your career journey?

A:  Not just marketers but really any business person can learn a few of my lessons learned:

  1. Take the emotions out of work by focusing on success metrics - those goals that are measurable and quantifiable.  So much time is wasted and stress is induced by worrying about what other people are thinking.   
  2. Those around you learn from you so be a good role model.  Teach the next generation how important self care is.  That the work is not always the priority.  Don’t strive for perfection or balance. Strive for making each day work for you.  
  3. Focus on doing great work that has an impact on your business and eliminate the things you do that have no value. 
  4. Don’t have regrets.  The decisions you make today need to work for today. Don’t worry about how it may impact 5 years from now.  Nothing is set in stone.  And no time is ever wasted.  Each experience you have in your career - whether good or bad - is a learning opportunity.
  5. Be present.  Whether it’s in a meeting with a client, at a training session/webinar, a meeting with your team/mentees - be there in the moment.  Don’t let your mind stray to your next meeting, your grocery list, your fight with your spouse or anything. Stay in the moment and tackle what’s right there in front of you. 

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About Marni

Marni is an NYU certified executive coach and ICF member with over 25 years of leadership in the marketing, advertising, media, and events industries.

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