Nearly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford established the forty hour work week in his factory. That’s right, the dreaded 9-5 has been terrorizing professionals since the 1920s. Cubicles and computer screens may entice some, but not very many others. What we really long for is travel, meaningful connections, and creativity. This longing is what’s at the heart of entrepreneurship culture. 

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has forced most everyone to reevaluate just how we’d like to spend our time, finite as it is. The constraints of our society, business related and otherwise, seemed to unravel overnight. A lot of us are still looking for that new beginning, or our next big break. First, we have to determine what is important to us as professionals, and as people at the dawn of a new era of work, play, and everything in between. I was fortunate enough to speak with Karyn Pettigrew, author, designer, and inspirer about this evaluation of values and expectations. 

About Karyn Pettigrew

Karyn Pettigrew founder of Beyond Blind Spots and ZoeGoes
Karyn Pettigrew founder of Beyond Blind Spots and ZoeGoes

Karyn Pettigrew is the esteemed author of her own self-help book, I Quit and Choose Work That Aligns with My Soul. Her expertise on guiding others to self discovery led Karyn to establish Beyond Blind Spots, a coaching business for entrepreneurs seeking meaningful and fulfilling work. Karyn is also the founder of ZoeGoes, a sustainable made-to-order fashion brand that is helping revolutionize the way women travel. (Hint: the product line features clothing that is multi-way wear, odor-resistant, low wrinkle, and oh so chic.)

As a woman in her 50s, Karyn is an icon for entrepreneurs and hustlers everywhere. She is undeniable proof that there is always time to find our passion, purpose, and create something worthwhile that reflects them. It is never too late to start, but it can be hard to find inspiration in dark times, which these have proven to be in many ways. 

The Upside

I asked Karyn about overcoming doubts and fears as an entrepreneur, and as a person, especially now.

“I think that we have become really complacent with what it means to work, what personal sovereignty means, what kinds of things we can do…”

Karyn believes the pandemic has revealed the crack in the traditional structures that we are predisposed to. This has been something of a blessing in disguise.

Looking back on it, she credits quarantining with forcing people to reevaluate the condition of their lives. Many of us have realized that our dreams may not align with the lives that we’ve been choosing. We were forced to sit with the discomfort of this reality, and at the same time, take stock of the things that we have been taking for granted. Karyn likes to say that we are living in a “time of perpetual adaptation.” As a self-described eternal optimist, she shares with me how to adapt in a way that inspires productivity and growth. 

Karyn describes people as puzzle pieces, who are meant to fit together, but often have trouble defining their own shape and edges. Lacking self-awareness makes us blurry, and we struggle to find our station in life. Follow along as Karyn walks me through some of the processes of self-actualization, which she uses with her clients in Beyond Blind Spots, and in her own life. Feel free to engage with them as honestly and as open-heartedly as you are able.

Understanding Your Truths

Smiling entrepreneur at work celebration
Smiling entrepreneur at work celebration

“Think about three things that you know for sure. Life lessons. Three things that you’ve learned, discovered… Things that you’re able to say ‘you know what? I know this to be true.’”

Go ahead, answer! Your responses should come to you clearly. Personally, I was surprised by the thoughts I ended up voicing to Karyn. She tells me that your answers come from a place of heart, of soul mission. 

What is something that you believe should be different in the world?”

Again, take a moment to respond honestly. You should be bursting with ideas, but pick the one that you feel most connected to. The combination of these two answers, of the things that we know to be true about the world and about our lives, brings us closer to our truths.

“These are answers that come from a very deep, core place. If you, right now, could be engaged in work that allows you to take a stand on exactly that issue, you would find greater satisfaction…That’s where we start.”

Defining Core Values 

“Think of someone that you admire. Give two or three reasons why you admire them.”

This can be anyone you look up to, for whatever reason. According to Karyn, the reason that you admire that person is because they share in your “core values.” Admiring someone for their notable traits is actually doing work to identify your own values. 

“We don’t resonate with anything that is not inherently part of who we are. It’s like, we sit here and we admire the person over there like there’s some distance. There’s no distance; you’re not going to resonate with anything that doesn’t already have roots in you. So instead of admiring, you’re being asked to activate.” 

Reflect on the core values that you’ve identified, and make a point to exercise them. Do you value intelligence, freedom, kindness, or something else? Will opportunities that present themselves to you encourage these values, or diminish them? What about the people in your life, do they reflect your core values? 

The Seismic Shift of Success

Successful entrepreneur standing on mountaintop
Successful entrepreneur standing on mountaintop

Karyn believes that we realize success when we discover our core values, and our personal truths.

“What we have a tendency to be is afraid of looking at our truth. ‘You know what, I don’t like this. I wish I was doing that’. We don’t look at it, because we’re afraid of the seismic shift it might cause.”

When many people think of success, they envision shiny material objects and banking that first million dollars. The fact of the matter is, there is no one formula that success follows. A purposeful life filled with meaningful work is all that some people need to feel accomplished. If you feel driven to make that million, more power to you. More than likely, no matter what path you choose, there will be someone or some societal standard that says you should be doing things differently. So, what if your seismic shift doesn’t align with others’ ideas about what success should look like? 

“I firmly believe that when we stand in that place, and we choose to do what we feel called to do, what animates us, what lights us up, what fills our heart…It can’t do anything but bring to you more of the same.”

The Radical Intersection 

In Karyn’s life, the self discovery she’s done using the methodology from Beyond Blind Spots inspires her in her fashion business, ZoeGoes. She describes ZoesGoes as a physical manifestation of all that she is. For Karyn, the overlap of these two businesses represents her radical intersection, or the point at which someone’s truths mashup.

“Quirks, curiosities, the things that you are aspiring to do, be, or have, your passions…Where does that mashup? The radical intersection is your most powerful place of being. For me, I feel like I’m operating from that place now.”

This station in life is not an easy one to achieve, but Karyn Pettigrew is proof that it can be done. Even having realized this level of success and satisfaction, Karyn has no shortage of ideas for propelling ZoeGoes forward (she’ll be introducing a new product line soon!). Of course, she’ll be operating Beyond Blind Spots all the while. If you’re seeking consultation in your life and/or business, be sure to reach out to Karyn over at Beyond Blind Spots.

Taking the First Step

There is a lot of work and self reflection that will go into reaching your own radical intersection, but there is no time like the present to start that journey. Karyn recommends you go to a meaningful place, and sit with yourself for a while. What are your values, your truths? Use this methodology as a guide to figure out your next steps, and remember, there is beauty in the process. In the words of Karyn Pettigrew, “Go out and do what you’re uniquely designed to do, because the rest of us need you to do that.”

This article originally published on GREY Journal.