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  • Kim Meninger

Be Wildly in Love with Your Life


Be Wildly in Love with Your Life

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we talk about how to stop settling for mediocrity in our careers. If you’re tolerating work that’s “just okay,” you’ve internalized a belief that work is supposed to suck, or you’re making things harder than they need to be, you’re not alone. This week, I talk with Elena Pastore, a leadership and career coach, about how to think differently about how we manage our careers. We explore actionable steps you can take to feel more empowered and less attached to situations that aren’t working for you so that you can be wildly in love with your life.


About My Guest

Elena is a Leadership & Career coach who utilizes a unique blend of expertise surrounding psychology, strengths, and professional growth tactics. She challenges clients individually and organization-wide to redefine the status quo and lean into curiosities about exploiting their own talents to add value groups they serve.


She works with clients on anything from mindset, to positive psychology and language, to boundary setting, to understanding your unique value, and developing strategies to call it into reality.


Elena is a double gator with a Master’s degree in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. She is also an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.


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Transcript

Kim Meninger

Welcome, Elena, it is so wonderful to meet you. I'm really excited to chat with you today. And I'd love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.


Elena Pastore

Thank you for having me, Kim, I'm really excited to be on your show and on this episode. So my name is Elena, and I'm a leadership and career coach. And one of the reasons that I love my job other than the fact that I made it up and I work for myself is because I love helping people that were in a place that I once was when I was figuring out what I want to do with my career in my life. So I help people either figure out how to get to the next step in their career, how to change careers, and really, overall, just find something that is really fulfilling to them, and is a way that they feel they can make the world a better place and use their skills and talents to, to make money and to have a great life. And one of the things that I really struggled with in the beginning, was figuring out what that looked like for me. And so I love people that are stuck in the way that I was kind of stuck when I was starting this whole thing. And in the beginning, I felt like I had just some knowledge gaps on strategy and where to go and how to make things happen. And then I realized down the road, that that was a form of imposter syndrome, and a lot of not feeling good enough, not just not knowing what to do and how to do it. And so what's one of the biggest roadblocks that my clients face now, whether it's b2b clients, that companies or b2c clients, individuals, just looking for a different career path. So that's one of the things that I love helping other people navigate and that I've navigated myself. So career fulfillment is, is the most important thing to, or one of the one of the most important things to having an overall fulfilling life.


Kim Meninger

So thank you for sharing that in. What were you doing before? What was your first or your career prior to this?


Elena Pastore

Yeah, so I knew that I liked helping people, which is a really broad umbrella. So before this, I worked at an ed-tech startup. It was a really small company so everybody kind of did a little bit of everything. And it was the technology product that we had was helping students develop their soft skills, and kind of setting their competitive advantage for seeking employment and different career paths.


Kim Meninger

And how did you know because I think you made a really interesting point. And you said knowledge gaps, might actually be impostor syndrome because I often talk about the way in which fear or self-doubt disguises itself in clever ways. And one of the ways it does that is by giving you a sense of like, oh, well, I don't know what that next step is, or there's information missing so I'm just gonna wait. And it becomes a stall tactic, as opposed to being sort of, you know, something that we're actually trying to address. And so how did you know what did it look like for you when you came to a place of, oh, I think I want to do something else.


Elena Pastore

So I will say, with this startup, I loved that work. I really did. It filled my cup in so many ways. The reason that I did something different is just because it didn't, this sort of just didn't work out, unfortunately. So when I then said, Well, what do I want to do next? I felt like I knew I wanted to do coaching and consulting, I hadn't quite delineated the difference between the two. But I knew that was the track that I wanted to be on. And I knew that I had a particular skill set that was of value, I just couldn't find a job that was of my level, because everything was mid to senior level 10 years of experience. So I knew and believed that I had a skill set that people would be willing to purchase services. For me. It was just a matter of how do I package that up. And that was where the imposter syndrome. And the trouble came for me was not in believing in my ability, but unsure of how to deliver it, because of the imposter syndrome. Not so much because of the lack of knowledge. It was a little bit of both, but it was more so the, the imposter syndrome.


Kim Meninger

Yeah. Which is really interesting, right? Because you had a certain that you're sort of if I'm thinking while I'm talking, but there's sort of this, this piece of believing in your capabilities, but when it comes to packaging them in some way, right? And I call that out because I think that that is something that so many would be career transitioners or job seekers struggle with is I know I can do it, but I don't know how to get from Point A to point B because what if other people don't think I can do it? Like, what if my resume is not linear enough? What if it? You know, I haven't quite figured out how to tell the story. And then it becomes this. You know, the, what we were talking about before of, maybe I stole or maybe I give up, or maybe I ended up back in a job that I really don't want, because it feels like, you know, the path of least resistance. So what did you end up doing to address that issue?


Elena Pastore

Yeah, so I did a few things. And what you just described, Kim is exactly what I felt what I experienced was, I know I can do it. But what if other people don't think I can do it. So I've always felt like a very confident person my whole life. But when I was in college and grad school, and I took some public speaking courses, and how to get feedback from peers on presenting, a lot of what came up was, you need to be more confident. And I was like, I am confident, what do you mean, and I just dismissed it a lot. And after it came up a few times, I was like, okay, different people that don't know each other, in different scenarios are saying the same thing. So maybe I should think about this a little bit. And that's when I realized, thinking that or having the belief or the thought that other people aren't going to believe in me, or aren't gonna be confident in me is a reflection of my confidence in myself. Hmm, it took me probably two years to really, or maybe more honestly, to really realize that. And that by saying, Oh, well, I know I can, but I don't know if they know I can that's pushing it away and deflecting and placing the doubt on somebody else rather than on self. Because at the end of the day, it all comes back to self. And if I really felt that confident, I wouldn't care if they thought I was confident, you know?


Kim Meninger

Yes, good point. Yeah,


Elena Pastore

So I had a coach, and he was the one that helped me to really peel back those layers of the onion without telling me but you know, as a coach does, guiding you through the thought process. So that was really the biggest thing in the beginning. And since then, I've taken different courses that have helped dive into it more done different techniques, had other coaches that have guided me through other processes, taking other assessments. And just, you know, it's always a work in progress. But that was really the pinnacle, and the most, the largest roadblock, or the largest instance of self-doubt and impostor syndrome that I didn't, I was in denial of really in the beginning.


Kim Meninger

Well, in what's interesting is, you mentioned the five to 10 years of experience, which I think is always a challenge for people there are looking at what are the criteria that are on the job description, or just like you're talking about, from a quote-unquote, credibility perspective, will people believe that I can do this, I think there are a lot of factors that play into it, I think age, right, when you're younger, and you're, you're thinking about older people who have more experience, if you are making a transition, and the rest of your peers have kind of done things in a certain way, and you're doing it differently. There's this feeling of, like, Oh, I'm not, I'm not legit, right? Because I didn't go through the same path that other people had. And I think about, you know, how do you get to a place where the confidence, your confidence allows you to go out there and say to the world, this is my value, and this is what I want to do. And if you don't want it, then I'll find another way to do it. So how do you how did you, you know, kind of once you got through the coaching process, was there like a light bulb moment? Or was it more of like an…


Elena Pastore

Wearable what?


Kim Meninger

Oh, sorry. I was just like, I thought you're gonna say something more of like an incremental sort of iterative process.


Elena Pastore

Yeah, so Well, when you said light bulb moment I, I immediately was, was brought back to one specific instance, but I wanted to hear the rest of what you're saying. So it was both I believe that for the big things like I said, that the confidence thing was a big thing for me because I was so resistant to thinking that I wasn't coming off as confident. And when you just lean into it and embrace it that hey, have a lot you know, like, it's like when, when you point out things like the classical classic dating example. You know, everybody I've dated is crazy. And it's then okay, but everybody's data does crazy. Who's the con? You're the constant, right? So what are you doing that you think they're all crazy, like, look, take a look at yourself. So that was how I felt about the confidence thing was, I was so resistant to taking a look at myself and just saying, like, these people are getting the wrong impression of me. So again, that was really the big thing that I needed to overcome. And then the rest of it was iterative. The lightbulb moment that I had, which I'm sure is in some way, related to this, but seemingly on the surface there kind of two different instances that I worked on with, with my coach. And this was maybe eight months into him coaching me and I had known him for a couple of years before that, but we hadn't really worked together closely was he helped me uncover a belief that I had, which was, I needed to suffer to change. [Hmm.] And that was really powerful. And I started crying when we were on the coaching call. And, and this came up because thinking back at all the instances, my life professional and personal, I was not ready or willing to change or to set a boundary or to communicate a need, until I was experiencing so much pain and hurt. And so maybe, and this is just I'm kind of thinking out loud, as I say this, maybe about the confidence imposter syndrome thing. I needed all of those people to say it and I needed to see the failure as a result of how I was showing up and experiencing pain in that way to realize I needed to change that this was something I didn't need to face. So that was the lightbulb moment for me.


Kim Meninger

That is really interesting because I think that I think about this in a lot of contexts. And I honestly don't know, off the top of my head, although I'm sure. You know, if we thought about it, there's plenty of sources for this. But I do think that we are programmed to believe that maybe it's no pain, no gain, right? Like there's that we're programmed to believe that anything worth doing needs to be hard that anything of value needs to be hard, right? If it's too easy, then you're not challenging yourself. It's not and we don't even embrace our own strengths that come naturally to us. Because that feels like that's no big deal. Right? What, what someone else can do that? We can't that seems so impressive, but because that's hard for us, right? So how do we get to a place where we can we don't have to make it harder than it needs to be?


Elena Pastore

Yeah, I mean, that's a big thing that I talk with clients about, it's I don't know if you're familiar with Clifton Strengths, assessment. Strengths Finder, for those who may be listening. It's called Strengths Quest, they've changed the name a few times. That's one of the themes of what Gallup teaches to that assessment is take the path of least resistance. We are all different people in this world, we all have different interests, different skill sets, different abilities, different talents, because the world needs a little bit of everything. And something that comes HARD TO YOU comes easy to somebody else. And we should focus on what's easy, because usually we like it. And it brings us joy, and it just makes so much more sense to pursue that than to pursue something that is might see more impressive, or that you know, we think we don't deserve it, or that we didn't try hard enough if we do it easily the first time or if we do it easily, you know, the second time or after, after learning it. So, yeah.


Kim Meninger

Yeah. And we were oh my gosh, we would save ourselves so much pain and heartache. If we didn't wait till the breakout session. There, it's almost like you have to find a sweet spot, right? Because I often think about it when it comes to, let's say, career transitions are job searching. You need enough. Pain is probably not the right word, but enough friction or enough sort of urgency around it to motivate you to make a change because we are so we're such creatures of habit that will stay in our comfort zone until there's a compelling reason not to. But if you wait too long, then you become panicked and your decision gyms are now guided by emotion, right, like, fear and desperation and all of these other things that are not going to position you to make a good long-term strategic decision. So how do you think about that when you're talking with other people to have, like, we're how do people know? Because I think pain is the biggest gauge of that, like, how do people know before they get to the breaking point yet? It's a good time, now's the time to think about this.


Elena Pastore

It's definitely loaded. I hear this almost every day from people, first of all, and I totally agree, what you said is spot on. People wait to experience a pain or frustration before they spring into action. So some of the classes that I that I took that I referenced her psychology classes, and were either motivated by move what they call move toward… Oh…


Kim Meninger

That's really funny. So listeners can't see this. But Elena just gave a thumbs up and it automatically appeared.


Elena Pastore

I noticed Zoom came out with that, I turned that setting off, because it's just, it's distracting. And it's like, you don't intentionally want it to do that, and it just pops up. But since I just got this computer yesterday, I didn't think to shut that off. So I'll have to teach that later. That's funny. So we're motivated to spring into action to take action from either move towards energy, something we want to attract something we want to be or move away energy, something that we don't want, so that we want to escape pretty much all of my clients. And I think this is for a lot of industries because it makes sense. Most of them are move away from, oh, I have a toxic boss, and I'm underpaid. Oh, I'm not getting enough interviews, oh, I'm not getting enough offers. They're experiencing that pain or distress or desperation, coming from a place of desperation. That's why they're seeking to help the people usually, in most cases that are not have been in that place before and don't want to be in that place again. And that's why they come to me more proactively. And there's a very small fraction that comes to me proactively before experiencing any pain at all. That's very, like less than 5% Probably. So yeah, they have to experience the lack of results, the failure before they decide, hey, there's something else that I need to focus on, or something else I need to address here.


Kim Meninger

Well, and I think self-awareness is a big part of this too, right? Because part of it is that it's easy to be on autopilot. When you're in a neutral state, it's not until the feelings start to ramp up that they bring your attention towards that. Like if things are just okay, you're kind of going through the motions you're not paying attention to. Is this getting me where to where I want to be? Is this fulfilling? As you said, right, we're, we're very, I would say adaptable, and you know, pretty resilient creatures by nature. And so we can get comfortable in a situation that's not great for us, and not even realize it. And so it's usually not until it's almost like, you know, you keep turning up the hot water until eventually it's like, Whoa, I feel like this. And I'm curious to get your thoughts on this. A practice of really checking in with yourself more proactively before the pain hits to be like, Hey, what did I find most enjoyable about my day today? Or about my week or my year? And you could look at it over whatever time horizon and where did I use my strengths in a way that really energize me? Or what did I find frustrating? Just prompts that get you to think deeper? Because otherwise, we'll just go through our day crossing things off of our list and not even check in with ourselves.


Elena Pastore

Hmm. Yeah, I think nobody does that. Or I think most people don't do that. I don't want to say everybody, because there's always exceptions. That would be incredibly helpful to a lot of people for their career growth. And of all my new clients, I always ask, you know, what's your main concern? Or why are you looking to get into something different, whether it's changing careers altogether, whether it's just during a different company, and probably over 90% of the time? The answer is good. growth, maxed out on growth, they've hit a ceiling, there's no career growth, they want to grow. But there's no opportunities either vertically or within their specific company. It's always growth in some way, shape, or form. And everybody uses that word to Across Ages, across industries across education levels, everything, it always comes down to that. And that's at least from people that are seeking out help that are coming to me, I don't know about everybody else out there, that's not seeking help. And so what that tells me is, and like you said, you know, because of how we are, as creatures, we typically people want to be better, they want to continue to evolve, to be the best version of themselves, not just professionally, but as a person in life. And so when you were speaking, one of the things that was coming to mind, for me, that's another problem that a lot of my clients face is, they're almost promised or led to believe that they're going to be promoted next, or when there is a vacancy, they're going to be the shoo in for it. And what happens every time that a client has come to me with that, and said, Oh, my, my director, my manager, my VP told me that in some undefined period of time, I'm gonna get this position, and a year will pass two years will pass, and nothing's changed. And as you can imagine, a lot of emotions are coming up with that, you know, not just being upset, anger, distrust, you know, loyalty being taken advantage of all of those things. And at that point, like you said, you're coming from a place of desperation. And not thinking, thinking ahead and saying, How was my day? How was my week? How was my month? How was my year, my quarter? And if people could, it's hard. If people could be a little bit more logical and rational about what, what do I think is really reasonably going to happen here, it would be easier for them to make a decision out of empowerment earlier on, to pursue the next step, whatever that might be, rather than just waiting around for an indefinite undefined period of time hoping and praying that somebody is going to keep their word.


Kim Meninger

That is really well said. And I think that is a really common challenge that I see a lot too. And you want to believe, right? You want to believe what your boss is telling you. And you want to be flexible and be a good team player and not keep saying so when is it going to be? When is it going to be, right? But after a certain point, like you said, you start to feel taken advantage of you start to feel betrayed in some cases. And I think that it can be really helpful to, like you said, sort of think about it from a logical place. And one of the things that I think about is what if nothing changes? How will I feel right? What if nothing changes between now and next year? Let's, let's fast forward to a year from now. And I'm still in the same place. Is that okay with me?


Elena Pastore

I love that. I love that so much. Yeah, because you've got to check in with yourself and say, how important to me really? Is it? This next thing?


Kim Meninger

Mm-hmm. Yeah, cuz you use the word empowerment, which I think is so critical, because we do feel like we're putting all of our power in the hands of our boss or company, right? And then that's a really anxiety-provoking place to be that feeling of there are people that are making decisions about my life, they're making decisions about my career that I don't have access to. I am limited in my ability to influence especially if I'm somebody who is nervous about advocating for myself or, you know, sort of promoting my value I have to trust that this particular person is going to be my champion in conversations I'm not part of. And so where do you get your own power back?


Elena Pastore

Yeah, yeah. And no, I love this direction. And, and I love what you're saying because I 1,000% agree with all of it. By putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping that like you just said that person is going to fend for you or advocate for you in that conversation that you're not a part of, all of those things. You're choosing to give your power to them. whether intentionally or not, that's what's happening. And people typically don't view it like that. Yet, you choosing to stay in you choosing to perpetuate this situation is you choosing to put your fate and your power in another person's hands. Whereas if you check in with yourself first and say, what do I really want? What am I okay with what am I willing to accept or not accept? Then regardless of how it works out, you are understanding and realizing that you the power lives in your hands because you're choosing to be okay with it. And you're choosing to let things play out as they will, because you thought through it, and you are consenting to it. [Yes.] Actively.


Kim Meninger

Exactly, exactly. And I like that you use the word choice, right? Because that's a big part of this is, I'm here willingly. And part of that too, in my mind, and it's gonna look different for every person, obviously, depending on the situation. But in a, in a moment where you are truly feeling like you're at the mercy of decisions that you don't have any control over or any influence on to diversify to buy, like, in my mind, don't wait until you find out that you didn't get that promotion to start networking and exploring other options. And I think a lot of times people think about things serially, right? It's like, Oh, I'll, I'll see how this, you know, performance review goes. And then I'll decide whether or not I want to go look for a job. And of course, if the performance review doesn't go the way you want it to. Now, once again, you're in that emotional state, as opposed to saying, you know, what, I'm just gonna explore my options. Being out there doesn't obligate me to make a change. But I'm empowering myself by getting more data around what's possible, maybe one company makes me an offer, maybe I learned something interesting. From a networking contact. Now I can make my decision from an informed place. Maybe no matter what happens with this promotion, I found a better opportunity. Who knows? But again, it just sort of comes back to that place of who's in the driver's seat?


Elena Pastore

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I 1,000% agree with everything you said. And even further, about waiting for that performance review and how it goes, a reason to not do that I guess I shouldn't say is even, you know, shopping around to say, hey, maybe this company is going to offer me another 20 grand, and in my performance review, I can say, hey, I would like to increase my salary by this much this company is willing to pay me that, can you match it. So it can also be ammo, to help your performance review go more in the direction that you want it to go. And it's just like you said, good to collect data about what else is out there? What is the market look like? And also, it takes a while to get a job nowadays, it's not just like, a month, it usually takes people a couple of months, unless, you know, even sometimes when you have connections to consult, take a while. But it's a bit of a longer process now than it was a couple years ago to and recently people I've worked with, and even friends, it's taken six months to find a job. And it's just, it's crazy. So you definitely want to put some feelers out there. Even just to see if where you're at is still going to be what's, what's most fulfilling, it doesn't have to mean that you're going to quit tomorrow. It can just be the get a sense of Are you still feeling happy? Are you still feeling fulfilled? Is this still what you want to do kind of get a, a pulse check?


Kim Meninger

Yeah, and especially if you've been in your company for a while, and you don't have a good frame of reference for your marketability outside of that company, right? You're not sure you're being paid market value for what you do. It's a great way to collect that data to go out talk to recruiters interview, find out because like you said, then you can use that as a negotiating strategy within your current company. And, you know, it all comes back to what we were talking about of the logical approach to this as opposed to the emotional one, because now you just have so many more, I guess, data points for lack of a better term, right? Like you just have a better understanding of where you fit into the larger picture. You don't feel I think, and I think this is, you know, particularly true for women and in many ways is this feeling of you should be grateful you have a job, don't rock the boat. There's this sense that if I make a mistake, I'm going to damage my whole career and so there's a lot of like walking on eggshells. As opposed to saying, Hey, this is this is my career, I'm going to own it. You know, I have choices, I don't have to stay here and tolerate the way that you're treating me.


Elena Pastore

I believe that everybody can be wildly in love with their life in every way. And you do have the power and control to make it all amazing. looks different for different people. Certain things you got to understand or you know, not reasonable, like finding certain jobs because you have bills to pay. That's very real. I do believe that everybody can actively work towards being wildly in love with their life. And every way, one piece at a time off, and so, but…


Kim Meninger

I absolutely love that. I love that expression. I love that concept.


Elena Pastore

Yeah, the sorry, the other thing I was thinking of is, when I'm helping clients figure out a next path. A lot of them will say, Well, I'll say, you know, what are your thoughts on this? Or, you know, you this is an aspect of your job? Is that something you want to continue doing? And a lot of them are like, Well, I wouldn't mind doing this. And I'll stop them. And I'll say, you want to do something you wouldn't mind? You can choose, and you're not even doing it yet. No, you're already saying you just wouldn't mind it. It's just so stigmatized because it's very common for people to not like their job or not love their job. People think it's normal to have something that's just okay. Common is not normal. The common doesn't have to be normal. [Yeah. Yeah.] And it's just seeking people sometimes and saying, why not find something you can be wildly in love with? Who wants to just say this part of my life is just okay. Or it's something that I wouldn't mind.


Kim Meninger

Hmm. And that goes back to what we were talking about earlier, too, of making things harder than they need to be? You know, it's like, I think that we have internalized a belief that people hate their jobs. And so I'm just one of the people that is miserable in my job as opposed to thinking, I have a choice here. I don't have to know her options. Yeah, ah, I love this. Elena. Any final thoughts?


Elena Pastore

I mean, we covered a lot of ground here, I think we really did. I mean, I guess the message that I would leave everyone with after listening to all of this is, if you feel like you're in a place where everything is just okay, it can be a lot better if you want to take action, if you want to take the power, if you want to take the ownership and take the action. So look at what's holding you back. How are you getting in your own way, like we talked about the beginning, the imposter syndrome. Make sure you're in a place of neutral emotions as best as you can. Because that can definitely derail you if you are in a high emotional state, not just negative emotions, but positive ones too. So if you know you're in an emotional state, wait until you've kind of leveled out and gotten a little more neutral, could be a day could be a few hours could be a week. And ask yourself with a lot of intentionality what you want to do, you can make money doing anything nowadays truly, there's nothing I can think of that you can't monetize. And then figure out what are specific action steps you can do to make that happen.


Kim Meninger

And if people want your help, as they're doing this, where can they find you?


Elena Pastore

Yeah, so you can find me on LinkedIn, which is just slash in slash Elena Pastore. And you can also email me Elena at ElenaPastore.com. And my website, allenatorecoaching.com.


Kim Meninger

Perfect, and we'll put those links in the show notes as well for anybody who is interested. Thank you so much, Elena. This was so inspiring.


Elena Pastore

Thank you. Thank you for having me. It was a great conversation.

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