Making Your Job More Fulfilling Without Changing Jobs with Shelley Kay
Updated: Feb 10
3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:
Why building a career that makes you feel fulfilled in the long term is important for your mental, emotional, and financial health.
How working less is an important part of being more productive.
Specific tools that will help you be present, honor your personal values, and create actual balance in your life.
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[05:17] Get to Know Shelley
Shelley describes herself as a ‘light and inspiration’ for others.
She offers career and leadership coaching for high-achieving women to help them create the careers they desire and have their dream lifestyles.
It is her life mission to show career-driven women new opportunities. Ultimately, she wants women to understand that they can have the things they desire right now.
Shelley: “You can have both the career and the lifestyle. [A] job doesn't need to be something that's tolerated or counted down until your next vacation or the end of the day; it can also be something that you get a lot of joy from and that can fuel the rest of your life.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[07:50] Reimagining Career Happiness
Career coaches often focus on resumes, perfect interviews, and landing the next job.
For Shelley, career coaching should be about building a career you’re excited about and supporting the lifestyle you want.
A significant misconception about career happiness is associating it with landing the next interview or getting the next job.
As a result, we miss out on the opportunity in the here and now. We underestimate the power and influence that we have over our current situation.
Instead, try to be present in the now.
Shelley: “When you learn how to empower yourself and show up in your current situation… the next steps start to unfold more naturally. You start to magnetize them a bit more versus putting the energy into the next step and constantly trying to pursue that.” - Click Here To Tweet This
There is no perfect fix-all solution in your career — not the next job, next company, or next manager.
[11:07] Finding Your ‘Special Sauce’
To achieve long-term career happiness, you have to change how you show up. Be present; change the way you work and view your work.
Reflect on what you are good at — it does not necessarily have to be job-related. These are your unique strengths or "special sauce."
Be clear about your ‘special sauce’ and own them. Find opportunities to maximize your strength.
Bring your "special sauce" to your current job, and you will carry yourself differently.
[15:51] Be Present; Find Your Purpose & Values
Your purpose can be a North Star. It can change how you prioritize and perceive any opportunity.
Find your purpose. Add this lens to your job and bring it to even the most mundane tasks.
One day, your job will no longer be new and shiny. When that time comes, your purpose and values will carry you through.
There is extreme power in getting clear and exercising your values.
Use your values and purpose as a lens to find opportunities to improve, initiate leadership, and bring positive change to your work.
[21:58] Setting Kind Boundaries
Always remember that boundaries are kindnesses. Setting boundaries is the best and kindest thing you can do for yourself and your career.
Remember to give yourself a little bit of grace. Setting good boundaries takes practice.
Start with that one small thing and practice communicating it in the mirror. Practice being clear about what you are and are not available for.
Overcome the fear and keep the bigger picture in mind.
Try these first, and get feedback in that process. If you find that your workplace is still not the environment that is suited for you and your boundaries, leave.
[30:29] Work Less, Be Present, Achieve More
Shelley: “This change [to working less] is not just us waiting for corporate culture to change. [We need] to start the revolution ourselves, one woman at a time, and being that ripple effect.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Your productivity will increase when you work less.
You are most productive, focused, and present when you are rested and enjoying what you do.
Stop viewing your value as "do, do, do." Instead, be present and find the worth in your strengths.
Start by getting deep into your energy, what brings you energy, and how you are managing your energy.
Find approaches to your job that maximize your energy, like spending more time doing tasks you enjoy.
[40:35] Productivity in the How
Caitie: “Do you want to be remembered as a workhorse? Or do you want to be remembered as the person who was present, helped people, and was all there?” - Click Here To Tweet This
Remember, productivity is in how you do and not what you do.
Three factors hinder this approach:
The corporate scheduling structure was created by men, for men.
The work-from-home and flexible work arrangements and the pressure and semi-expectation of being constantly available.
The output-based ‘productivity tools’ make us forget to take a beat to reset.
More does not equal better. This mindset causes burnout in the long run.
[43:12] Sourcing A Sense of Worth
High-achieving women often get validation through their work ethic — by working hard, being ‘perfect,’ and showing up always ready to take on any task.
However, this mindset creates a very short-lived validation.
What will bring you fulfillment are honoring your values, having balance, and being present.
Stop sourcing a sense of worth or safety from the wrong place.
We must break the cycle and be examples for future women that there is a different way to prove yourself and make your mark.
Shelley: “It ultimately comes down to the relationship and connection with yourself and being able to listen to and honor [those] — [this] is really the ultimate path forward.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[49:38] Shelley’s Morning & Evening Anchors
Shelley begins and ends her day by making space in her mind and body.
She starts her day with journaling, followed by a 20-minute meditation.
Shelley also enjoys an activity called Tapping with Brad.
Before going to bed, Shelley stretches. This helps her let go of the day and wind down.
Then, she completes the end-of-the-day five-minute journal prompts and does her skincare routine.
Shelley Kay is a coach for high-achieving corporate women, helping them leverage their skills and experience to create a balanced career they are passionate about. Using her Embody method, she aims to help career-driven women work less, be present, live more, and love their jobs — without having to work themselves to the bone. Before her coaching career, Shelley was an HR professional at top Fortune 100 companies like Google and PepsiCo.
Connect with Shelley on her LinkedIn or Instagram.
You can also visit her website for more details on her career coaching.
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Shelley Kay: There's never going to be the perfect fix-all solution in the next job, the next company, the next manager. What really creates this long term fulfillment comes by changing the way that you work and changing the way that you view your work.
Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of full soul nutrition.
But underneath my titles and resume, I’m a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity. I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy, you have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive. Right here, right now. Let's get into it.
Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full and Alive. So grateful that you are here for your first episode or not your first episode or whatever. So happy we're connected in some way and that you're tuning in today. I want to start today's episode by inviting you to relax a little bit. Can you take the deepest breath you've taken all day right now? I'll give you some time to do it. Take the deepest breath you've taken all day. Inhale, hold it. Exhale, release it.
Then maybe you bring your right ear towards your right shoulder for a moment, feeling a stretch in the left side of your neck. Then maybe you bring your left ear towards your left shoulder, feeling a nice big stretch in the right side of your neck. Bring your head back towards the center and just shake out your upper body a little bit. I hope you're feeling a little bit more centered and a little bit more present and a little bit more in your body than you were 15 seconds ago.
I always want to emphasize that these little things that we can do, these little tiny, tiny things that we do, can cause a really big shift. You never need to reinvent the wheel or go on a juice cleanse or do all of these ridiculous things that we're told we need to do to feel well to feel back in our bodies. It really is tiny micro moments and tiny micro steps in the midst of our day that can help us feel more grounded, more connected, or present or inspired.
So anyway, let's get into today's episode. I am so excited about it. Today's episode is with Shelley Kay. She is a career coach for women who are feeling at a crossroads in their career and are ready to make lasting changes to finally have a lifestyle that they want while also loving what they do for a job. I am so stoked to have Shelley's voice on the podcast today. It's like one of those episodes where it just keeps building and building and the interview keeps getting juicier and juicier and by the end you're just like wow.
The theme of this episode is so powerful and so amazing and I'm so excited to implement this in my life. That is the main thing I want to say in today's intro because that's how I was feeling by the end of this interview with Shelley. It was like one of those things that just kept building and by the end I was like wow, I can see changes that I want to implement in the way I work in the way I operate in the way I approach my career.
So I'm so excited for you to hear Shelley's voice. Today's episode applies to you whether you are contemplating making a change in your career or not. It is not just about making a change to what you do or what job you have. But it's also about making changes to the way you approach the job that you currently have. And right from the get-go in this episode, Shelley provides super tangible tools for approaching your work life differently.
I also think that all the things that Shelly talks about in this episode can also apply to you if you are a student or filling some other kind of vocation that's not necessarily work related. So I'm super, super stoked to have Shelley Kay on the show today, I want to dive into this interview right away. Enjoy.So Shelly, thank you so much for being here today.
Shelley: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Caitie: So the first question that I ask all my guests is, who are you? And not really what you do but who you are?
Shelley; It's a tough question. But I think, who I feel I am at my core is a light for others and an inspiration, showing them what's possible in their life and their future. That's also really what I live my life by is just being really committed to making what I want a reality, whether that's like, the lifestyle, the career, but whatever it is, that is my heart's desire, I want to believe pursue those things, and really spread that to others, but they can, they can have whatever they want to.
Caitie: So your mission is to show people what's possible for them, and to help people understand that they can have the things that they deeply desire, and they don't have to like, deserve them. They can get them right now.
Shelley: Yes, yes, you said it so much better than me. But that's exactly it.
Caitie: That's beautiful. So what do you do? How do you do that?
Shelley: How do I do that? Well, right now, I do that through career and leadership coaching for high achieving women. And by helping them create the careers that they desire, having work that they're passionate about feeling.
You know — growth and challenge and making an impact, without sacrificing a lifestyle that they're really lit up about too, because I know that you can have both the career and the lifestyle and that a job doesn't need to be something that's tolerated or counted down until your next vacation or the end of the day. It can also be something that you get a lot of joy from, and that can fuel the rest of your life.
I want every woman to have that fulfillment and joy in her career, and really have her career support a holistic lifestyle that also feels really nourishing and exciting.
Caitie: So I like that concept of being a career coach, but focusing just as much on the lifestyle as you do on the career because I think people might have an idea of career coaches, being someone who helps you identify, obviously, your career goals, and what job you want to have and what expertise you need to accumulate. And what is interesting about your approach is that there is just as much of a focus on the lifestyle that you deeply desire to have and making sure that that is incorporated into the career goals. It's not just about what's going to help you feel good. In the office, it's what makes you feel lit up outside the office.
Shelley: Yeah, exactly. And I've actually struggled with the term career coach, because when I like even, you know, other career coaches in my network, it's very commonly focused on your resume and interviewing and landing that next job. Resume and interviewing is the tiniest fraction of what I do with my clients.
So I call it career coaching, because it is focused on building that career that you're really excited about and that supports the lifestyle. But I think the misconception is that career happiness will take place when you get a different job, when you land the interview, when these things happen, and in my experience, and what I see with my clients is that there's so much missed opportunity in the here and now.
We underestimate the power and influence that we have over our current situation. What I've seen and what worked for me in my own career is when you learn how to empower yourself and show up in your current situation to bring to life more of what you're desiring — whether that's growth and challenge, whether that's balance, whether that’s impact, whether it's meaning and fulfillment, the next steps start to unfold more naturally. You start to magnetize them a bit more versus putting the energy into the next step and constantly trying to pursue that.
Caitie: I feel like I have a lot of clients who would benefit from hearing that right now. I have a lot of clients- so a big bulk of the population I work with — not the entire population I work with, but a lot of my clients are young professionals. They're around, I would say, like 25 to 30 years old. Most of them are at a stage where they're sick of their current job, and they want to switch to a new one. They're in the stage of applying for the job going to all these interviews. The job market is tricky right now — I just think it's always been tricky. I think it's always just been sticky and terrible.
A lot of them are not getting the jobs that they were hoping they were going to get and feeling just like pretty stuck, pretty hopeless. I want to know what messages you have specifically for those people who feel like the only way career fulfillment is going to come is from the moment they get the next job. What do these women do, who are feeling a little stuck in their current job, don't love it, but it's like — I always hear this word: it's flexible enough.
I think what they mean by that is I know what I'm doing enough that I don't have to stress too much about this, and it allows me to kind of be flexible in my life and not let my career take over my whole life. So it's like, what would your advice be for individuals who are in this place of like, okay, yeah, this job's flexible enough, it's good enough, it fits my lifestyle enough, but it's not the thing. It's not the one, I'm not super happy. What do I do while I'm in the waiting game of finding the next thing?
Shelley: Yeah, so many things, I've also done in their position, right? The strategy that I have now, and that I use with my clients comes from over a decade of my own career experience in working in HR and thinking, “Oh, when I get that job, everything's going to be better.” Oh, when I get this job, everything's going to be better, when I get a new manager, everything is going to be better. What I realized through my own trial and error is that there is nothing outside of you, that is going to fix everything, ever.
But for long term happiness, I had to change how I was showing up. Because otherwise, you have the same- the new job is shiny and fun for a couple of months. And then it becomes enough, again, like you feel kind of like you're settling and in that stuck energy. So there's never going to be the perfect fix-all solution in the next job, the next company, the next manager, and like, what really creates this long term fulfillment comes by changing the way that you work, and changing the way that you view your work.
So if you're the woman who is like, “I am tolerating this,” but you know that settling stuck energy that feels really unmotivating, and, frankly, exhausting, I would tell her to spend some time reflecting on what are you really good at. It doesn't have to be necessarily job related. I mean like, I am amazing at organizing my house. I am amazing at painting watercolors, I am amazing at being like the best dog mom in the world. Whatever it is that you are. I'm amazing at making my friends laugh so hard it hurts.
Whatever it is, get really clear on what your “special sauce” is, like your unique strengths. There are characteristics about you that no one else has. I want you to get really clear on what they are, and I want you to own the heck out of them. Because this is the difference between just doing a job, checking the boxes. This is where the exhaustion and the settling comes from: going through the motions versus bringing your own unique spark to it. So once you are really clear on what those things are, and you start to own them, bring your special sauce to your current job.
Or be just like “I am hilarious,” like you are the next stand up comedian. Make a couple jokes during meeting you know, like make it a little fun for yourself. Like if you're this artistic or you're just like a really caring, nurturing person, take an intern under your wing, you know. There are opportunities at your fingertips to maximize your strengths. That right there is going to be energizing and reinvigorate you. Just by doing that, even if it's like five minutes a day doing something a little bit new and different, it's going to change things.
So I think we get stuck thinking we need to be in the box. There's a lot of messages from corporate, you know, like culturally have these: look a certain way and do a certain way. That's when we strip ourselves of these special characteristics. So the first thing I want you to do is start to bring those back in, and you'll start to carry yourself differently, just as a result.
The second thing that I would recommend is to think about what your bigger purpose is, just how you had asked me at the beginning of this call. That's work that I do with every single one of my clients, because your purpose can really be a North Star. And it will change how you prioritize and perceive any opportunity.
So if your purpose is to inspire others, or your purpose is to create an environment for others to feel comfortable, whatever it is, add that lens to your job, and see what new opportunities. Like is it you start a group of women who meet for coffee and discuss whatever it is creativity, work life balance, you know. Look for these opportunities, bring your purpose to even the most mundane tasks, because when our job is no longer new and shiny, and it's just routine, all of that, like special energy gets taken out of it.
But even when you're sending an email, if your purpose is to inspire others or brighten their day, it's gonna change your entire energy that you bring to that email, and it is going to change the results of that email. So just looking at how you can bring that to the tasks that seem you know, like, tedious, mundane, whatever it is, it's going to change everything for you. Those two things are basically going to give you a new job; you're gonna feel like you're in a new job. I would recommend starting there.
Another really important thing is to be clear on what your values are. And use that as a lens for also, where things don't align for you come up with opportunities to improve what is right. Like if there's something that you're like, this process doesn't make sense, or like this meeting is really silly. Maybe your value is authenticity. Maybe your value is strategy, maybe your values, creativity.
Whatever is super important, are those cornerstones for you in your life, where things feel out of alignment in your job, use that as an opportunity to initiate your own leadership in making improvements and making changes that I've seen amazing results come out of that, like with myself and my clients, super empowering, and makes things a lot more enjoyable while you're still in your current position.
Caitie: Hmm. I love all these. I love all of these, because the first one invites you to celebrate yourself for what you're good at. And really lean into the things that you're good at no matter how seemingly mundane and unrelated to your job they might be. You don't necessarily have to do the things that you're good at at your job. I think a block that I see a lot of my clients have is like, “Well, I'm really good at whatever, even if it's something like painting or drawing and my job is looking at spreadsheets all day.” . Okay, you have to prioritize painting or drawing ten minutes in the morning, twenty minutes in the morning because then you're going into work with this sense of satisfaction.
The time when I hated my life and my job the most was when I was working at a hospital in 2019 in the ICU. I will never go back to working in the ICU ever again. As a dietitian it's the worst. Like in my opinion, it’s the worst position for a dietitian. Go off the queen dietitians who are still in the ICU doing that. I couldn't do it forever.
I had to get myself out of the rut that I was in during that time by teaching yoga before I went to work, so I had to teach 5am yoga classes. It was the only time I was going to be able to fit it in my schedule. But doing that literally sent me to work in such a different energy, such a different energy because I was so much better at teaching yoga than I was at calculating tube feeds.
I was able to go and lead this group of people through their morning yoga flow in person back in the day, and it was great, it felt amazing. And I can really relate to that sentiment of doing the thing that you're good at. Similarly, I can also relate to creating a mission and a purpose and coming back to it.
Being an entrepreneur comes with a lot of really tedious tasks, sending emails, scheduling, bookkeeping, trying to figure out how to pay taxes, all that shit. And I keep this post-it note on my desk, that has my purpose on it, which is to make people feel good about themselves and to make their lives better. And every time I'm feeling like shit, sending an email, or doing one of those things that I hate, like sending clients, their insurance claims, like my least favorite thing to do, I am just like, “Thank you, God for the opportunity to make people's lives better, and to make them feel good about themselves.”
I really, really love that idea of having a mission and a purpose and putting it into the mundane. And then personal values. Of course, I'm all about that shit, because I'm a body image coach, and I love helping people come back to their personal values, as part of the process of healing their relationship with their body and the way that they see themselves.
Shelley: Yes, definitely. That's a lot of people that don't know their personal values. I didn't until I started coaching training. And it seems so obvious. Even when I learned about it, I'm like, yeah, values. I know. Yeah, whatever, whatever. But could I listen? No, I'm like, I value honesty, I value- I could list off a few nice fluffy words that I believe in. But to actually do the exercise to get clear on your values is extremely powerful.
Caitie: Yeah. And, of course, none of this stuff, none of these exercises about doing what you're good at, and identifying your mission and your personal values applies if you're in a super, super toxic work environment, right? We can't erase a toxic work environment, by reframing the mindset and things like that. This is just if you're in a monotonous job that you really don't like, and maybe your boss isn't like the coolest gal in the world, and you're just like, “Okay, I've got to stick with this ship.”
But this doesn't apply if you're in a toxic work environment, if you are in a work environment that lacks boundaries that allow you to have good mental health. Do you have any words of wisdom around that, Shelley?
Shelley: Yeah, I mean, I've certainly felt that way before. I work with clients, as well. I think the first thing to get really clear on is how kind boundaries actually are. Like they are kind, they are necessary, and what I see with my clients, especially when they're getting messages from, you know, people around them that, like time for themselves isn't important, or whatever. Like productivity is the only priority here, it’s like, “Oh, if I set boundaries, they'll think I'm not doing a good job. And if I set boundaries, I'll look like a slacker or whatever”
There's always the fear to taking the action. So I think first and foremost is: the mindset around boundaries. That you doing what you need to take care of yourself is actually the best thing that you can do for your productivity, and it is the most kind of thing that you can do to those around you like when you are showing up as your most well rested, balanced, you know, attended-to self, everyone around you is ultimately going to benefit.
Maybe not everyone has that awareness, but really like you are doing the best thing for yourself and others when you set them and hindsight is always 20/20. So like I know, I've been in that place where you're like, ah, you know, even if it's leaving work 30 minutes early, or like going outside for your lunch break, whatever it is, can feel like a really big step but it is really the best thing that you can do. So start there.
Then I would say give yourself a little bit of grace because the other thing with boundaries when I work with my clients — I don't know if you see this — is that we expect perfection immediately. Like what is the perfect way for me to phrase this so that no one gets mad at me no one's offended and you know, well perceived and whatever and boundaries just take practice. So I would say start small and if what you need for your mental health is, yeah, leaving work at a certain time, taking a break, like doing a yoga class and coming in 30 minutes later than you have been. Just start with that one small thing and practice communicating it in the mirror a couple of times. Don't apologize, just say I will be x, y, whatever it is, just state it.
Then give yourself a little bit of grace if it's not perfect. But I say start small and it will build up your confidence. I think the most challenging boundaries are when they're not time related, but they're behavior related. You have to communicate to someone, it makes me feel really uncomfortable when you do that, or I'm not available for conversations gossiping about XYZ, coworker.
I think those can feel the most challenging, and make sure you have support. Practice. Be clear about what it is that you are and are not available for and also get really clear about what you will be available for once you no longer have that. So if you are saying you know no to gossiping at the office, because that's dragging you down, you need to set a boundary with someone, think about what that is going to open your energy up to as it relates to your purpose, as it relates to honoring your values, as it relates to showing your unique strengths. Being grounded in that benefit is going to make it much easier to carry through because we often think like, “Oh, this is rude, or how are they going to take it,” or whatever.
But keeping that bigger picture in mind is just really helpful. Because that bigger vision is what we have to show up for and keep making those small steps forwards.
Caitie: Yeah, so remembering that boundaries are kind is great, like setting a boundary is the kindest thing you can ultimately do. Because when you set the boundary, you're able to show up with your fullest cup with your most present energy, and actually be all there. Kind of like you and I had to set boundaries with each other in terms of scheduling this interview, we scheduled it three times outside the boundary. Then you had to set a boundary and now we're here.
Also, remembering that boundaries are something that takes practice is amazing, because I have so many clients who expect themselves to be perfect the first time they set a boundary or they're like “I suck at setting boundaries, I did it so badly.” It's like, you're doing this so much better than you did this a year ago today. Let's talk about how many more boundaries you're setting and not expecting it to be perfect in every single moment.
Because we're human beings, we get triggered, we get activated, we can't always speak in the most, you know, eloquent and sophisticated way all the time when we're activated. We do need to give ourselves grace and practice being composed in stressful situations. Finally, remembering that boundaries are also a pathway towards honoring your personal values is beautiful.
I think that if you're in a work environment where you can't honor boundaries, you can't practice kindness through boundaries, you can't give yourself the opportunity to even practice setting boundaries, because there's no opportunity for it, then, of course, you're in a toxic work environment. The most important thing is to get out of there as quickly as possible and figure out what you need to do. Work with HR to communicate an exit strategy that's going to be healthy and good for you.
I think it is important to say that. If you can't set these boundaries, you know, attempt to set them first, dive in there, see what you can do to make sure, and if it's impossible, then yes, you're in a work environment that you need to get out of. And it doesn't matter when the next interview comes around. You just got to get out of there.<