Ways to Get Unstuck and Discover Your New Direction

Jenna Kutcher 

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October 17, 2022


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You know that scene in the TV show Friends where they’re trying to move a couch through a narrow staircase? I think of that scene every time I hear the word “pivot”, no matter the context. Pivoting is something I know a lot about – some of my best career moves started with a desire to pivot, to switch it up, to pursue a new direction towards the life and business I really wanted. Sometimes those pivots were major U-Turns – a complete reverse of direction in pursuit of brand new ideas, dreams, and opportunities. “You Turns” are something this guest knows all about.

Ashley Stahl is a counterterrorism professional turned career coach. She helps people all over the world with self-discovery, upgrading their confidence, and finding career fulfillment. 

Are you in the metaphorical staircase with a big couch yelling pivot? Are you in the left lane with your blinker on, ready to pull a You Turn? Is the only thing more terrifying than stepping into the unknown, staying stuck exactly where you are? If you answered yes to any of the above, this is the episode for you. 

Letting intuition guide your pivot

There are people on the planet who you feel like you should have been connected to them decades ago, and Ashley is one of those people. Out of all of the origin stories I’ve heard on this podcast, Ashley’s former title of counter-terrorism professional is among the most intriguing, so I started off by asking her about her early career and how it led to the path she’s on today. She told me, “I did everything right. You know, I got the degrees, I did the internships. I did all that I could to stand out for this, and it wasn’t until I finally got to the Pentagon and I was working on a program relating to Afghanistan in the counter-terrorism arena that I realized, wow, I’m way too sensitive for this career path.” 

Ashley knew she had to pivot into an entirely different career, and although she didn’t know exactly where to turn, she knew she had the skills to figure it out: “The benefit of the career was that they taught me everything about intuition. I mean, when you want to go into the counter-terrorism intelligence space, you need to learn intuition to save your own life.

Ashley started helping her friends with their careers during the recession and found that it nourished her soul, and before she knew it she had a whole new calling: “I started teaching them how to get job offers and they would always say, ‘you should be a career coach.’ And I was like, sounds like unemployment. What even is a career coach? It was in 2009, career coaches weren’t a thing, you know? So anyway, eventually I started my business and I’ve been using intuition as a guidepost to help people in their careers, and that’s turned into my podcast and my book and all of my work now.” 

Don’t do what you love, do what you are

Ashley uses this great analogy in her book You Turn to describe the importance of listening to our intuition. She tells me, “There’s this concept of turn signals. And to me, it’s those little feelings in your body. I mean, given that our gut, called our second brain, has more than 200 million neurons, you know, it’s the size of a cat or dog’s brain. So there’s an intelligence to our body and that sinking feeling in our stomach. There’s an intelligence to when we feel expansion. So I think those body moments are turn signals for us and whether we choose to listen or not and stuff it down is up to us.”

The main idea behind Ashley’s book is: don’t do what you love, do what you are. She explains, “There’s a big difference because a lot of the things we love and we consume, we’re not great at producing. And so the idea of a You Turn, both in the podcast and the book, is this critical moment of transformation where you get radically honest with yourself about some area of your life that isn’t working. And instead of pushing it down, like you said, we know what we know. And I think we spend all day trying not to know what we know because what we know is inconvenient. I love asking clients, in my practice or in my courses, I love to ask them: what do you know that you wish you didn’t know? Because a lot of the times that is the juice for where you can really change your life.”

The three career lilypads

I feel like there are two types of people when it comes to career moves: those who have the attitude of “jump and the net will appear,” and those like myself who need to have that safety and security before they can make a leap. Ashley explains, “Most people in the human experience will not leap into the fear of the unknown until their misery in their current state is so extreme that they feel like they have no choice but to leap into the unknown. And so my hope in my work, and even when I was reading your book, Jenna, in your work, is really helping people notice when they’re lukewarm. So they don’t need to be hit by that two by four, whether it’s an illness or a quarter-life, mid-life crisis, but rather they can start to smell when a You Turn is on its way and start to listen to themselves.”

Ashley breaks the career pivot process down into three steps, which she refers to as “lilypads.” She says, “There are really three lilypads that we have in our career, and I try to get people to the second lilypad.”

The first lilypad

“The first one is a lot of people, people kind of not really feeling good where they are, but maybe it’s paying the bills or it’s giving them something to do every day and they’re fine with it. That’s the first lilypad, and most people are there, at any given time–71% of the workforce is job hunting. And I think that’s not just because they outgrew their job. It’s because they’re looking for something that feels right. They’re scratching an inch. So I think those people are trying to get off the first lilypad.” 

The second lilypad

“I think this is when you know your gift, that’s when you know what your skillset is, you know where you’re gifted. I think what you’re interested in really matters, but not as much as where you’re gifted, because your gift is how you spend your day. It’s how you use your body, your mind, your heart, and all your energy throughout the day. It’s your tasks. It’s your responsibilities. Your interest is like the backdrop. So when you get to that second lilypad, it’s a game of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And so the game on the second lilypad is taking things that really light you up, and then you have the opportunity to maybe go to the third lilypad.”

The third lilypad

Ashley describes the third lilypad as an alignment with dharma, where you’re pursuing your truest calling and serving others in the universe by playing your truest role. She says, “I made it there when I was writing my book and sometimes when I’m podcasting and it’s dharma, it’s feeling like time just flies and words are flying through your fingers when you’re writing your book. And it’s like a full-on transmission and it’s just soul work. And I flip between the second and third lilypad often, of my gift and dharma. And my wish is that in my work I can help people at least get to that second lilypad of their gift so that they have an opportunity to make that You Turn and fully go into their dharma.”

Final thoughts from Ashley Stahl

Making that pivot, that swim to the next lilypad, can feel terrifying. Often, though, ignoring our intuition and staying stuck can end up costing us even more in terms of our happiness and fulfillment. Ashley leaves us with this: “Eventually, who you are always wins. Meaning what you really want is eventually going to shine through, and it’s just a matter of, how long are you gonna let it be until you listen to it?”

If you want more from Ashley Stahl you can find her book You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career anywhere books are sold. You can also listen to her podcast, You Turn Podcast, which talks about mindset, work, and love, wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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