How To: Listen To Yourself

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Last week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Meng, founder of LA-based jewelry line Ready-Made. This week, she’s back to share with us her top tips on listening to yourself, even if goes against what everyone around you is promoting. Read on for her helpful advice!

1. Notice the early signs
You know that feeling of looking at your to-do list, only to scroll down to your monster task, the one you’ve been avoiding for a while, that has made it through to a third re-write of your to-do list because you’re avoiding it so much? Well, that might be one way your gut is talking to you. Jennifer says, “When you find yourself procrastinating a lot, like when I was applying to law school, when [I had] to write a personal essay, I really couldn’t write it. I felt like I was being really dishonest. That’s a major indicator that something’s up.” So, before judging yourself for not checking something off your list, take a moment to think about why you’re dreading it.

2. Take the time you need.
It’s so easy these days to feel like everyone around you is finding success immediately, even the kids that never helped out in class projects. Meanwhile, you’re in line at Chipotle deciding whether you can afford the guac. It’s at those moments when you feel you must double down and turn your ten-year plan into a five month one that Jennifer suggests otherwise: “People say ‘Hurry up and develop your career,’ but that’s so not true. You have plenty of time. It’s ok to wait a year or two years to figure out what you want. If you really feel uncertain, what’s wrong with waiting? That’s something you have to give yourself permission to do.”

3. Prepare as best you can for people’s reactions.
Once you’ve made the tough but honest choice that your gut was suggesting this whole time, you have to tell people about it. Jennifer explains that “It’s really hard. When I told everyone that I was going to start a jewelry business, no one took me seriously. My parents were very upset. They were like, “What’s wrong with being a lawyer?” It might be hard, and reactions might not be as gentle as you’d hope, but keep your eye on the long-term outcome.

4. But don’t forget you’re in charge of the narrative
Jennifer goes on to give encouraging advice. As difficult as it might be, you have some control over how you communicate your choice, so exert your power through tactful thought. Jennifer says, “A lot of the work is on you. When you tell people about these big moves you’re going to make, how are you going to tell people? And that really sucks, because why should [you] even be considering how [you] talk to people about these transitions? But if you start the conversation with ‘I’ve put thought into this. I know this is how I feel, and I’m going to go with it, I just need you to support me,’ people will back off a little bit, even if they’re strongly opposed to it.” In other words, now that you’ve heard and followed your gut, stand up for it!

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Jennifer! Readers, after you’ve taken the time to check in with yourself, come back next week for an interview with a doctor who runs her own practice.