What If ‘Back to Normal’ Is Terrifying?

As a woman with ADHD, I’m a study in opposites. I love to experience life’s joys, travel the world, and talk to interesting people, but I am also an introverted recluse who is more than a little cozy in leggings and slippers all day. Confident that I’m not missing out on much these days, I am happy and secure at home.

And, so, as the availability of vaccines shines a brighter light on our collective horizon, I am both cautiously optimistic and suffering from a serious case of F.O.O.N. — fear of the old normal.

In the old normal, time management was a mountain I climbed daily. Nestled at home, however, I don’t waste an hour choosing my outfit each day. That frantic feeling of rushing and worrying — about what I have to do or haven’t done — has practically disappeared. If I forget something important, chances are it’s just upstairs or, at worst, outside in my car. My ADHD brain has, for maybe the first time, found calm and at peace in a locked-down world with no choices, no decisions, no travel.

The tradeoff: I fear that I have become not only agoraphobic, but also anthropophobic. People, in general, make me jittery. When I’m walking my dog and see a person coming in my direction, I turn my back and cross the street. A trip to the grocery store provokes undue anxiety. I now almost exclusively order online for delivery. I watch movies from 2019 and cringe when I see crowds of people on airplanes, at sporting events, and dancing at weddings. And talking to my doctors on my cell phone without the hassle of parking lots and waiting rooms is the greatest. I jump out of bed, grab a coffee, and work while I wait. I feel genuinely calm, relaxed, and stress-free. The pandemic has given my ADHD a break.

But I can’t hide in my house forever. As more signs of reopening appear, it’s time to access my resilience and to create a plan to ease my ADHD brain back into the real world while not necessarily accepting the old normal as a foregone conclusion. Here is my list of re-entry rules.

1. Be prepared.

Preparations are comforting. So is routine. Yet as a woman with ADHD, neither of these come naturally to me. I typically procrastinate or spend hours deciding how to move forward (without moving anywhere). But as a resident of hurricane territory, I have enough experience to know that taking action to prepare for an upcoming event eases discomfort. Formulating a plan provides me with a stabilizing sense of being in control, even if (and when) circumstances change in a blink.

2. Name your feelings.

This method is so simple and effective; it almost doesn’t make sense. When you name the emotion you’re experiencing, that uncomfortable feeling no longer has power over you. You’re the boss. The psychologist Dan Siegel calls this method “name it to tame it.” With ADHD, emotions appear fierce and without warning. When I slow down and name my feelings, I reclaim the reins.

3. Share your feelings.

After you name your emotion, take the next step by sharing what you’re feeling. Expressing (in words) clarifies and lessens the unease of the negative emotion, which is a phenomenon we often see in talk therapy. Whether you write in a journal or talk to a friend, get the fears out of your head. With ADHD, we’re often the outsiders, thinking others are judging us for our quirky thoughts. When we share what we’re thinking, we realize we’re not so different. Our normal friends are feeling just as anxious as we are.

4. Learn how to breathe.

Most of us take our breath for granted. We breathe without realizing how we can utilize a simple inhale and exhale to bring calm. Various breathing techniques are designed to help you slow down your heart rate or racing thoughts. My favorites are pranayama, QiGong, 4/7/8, or box breathing.

5. Enlist a support buddy.

If your anxiety is high, enlist the help of a compassionate friend. If you’re worried about receiving the vaccine or navigating a more crowded store, find a supportive, cautious, vaccinated friend who can help you visualize success and lessen your fears.

4. Identify your baby steps.

If your anxiety is severe, hire a licensed professional. If not, consider practicing desensitization on your own. First, measure your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10. Then slowly expose yourself to the discomfort. Every day, I force myself to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or Target. I do this because I’ve lost the energy and motivation to leave my home, but I know that’s not sustainable or healthy. Walking through those doors with my mask and a deep breath is my baby step.

5. Practice self-compassion.

I know that meaningful gains come from pushing myself and my boundaries, but I also know that I have to be gentle with myself. It’s been a long, challenging year. Each person has navigated a distinct personal experience, emotionally and physically. Don’t judge yourself harshly; do be respectful of others. Be kind. Show empathy. Go slow.

6. Unlock your productivity.

At the outset of the pandemic, my home office was overflowing with paper piles. I used the time in my more flexible schedule to clear out the mess so I could get motivated again. It worked! To get my ADHD to work for me, I know I need to follow a structured program with deadlines. Since I prefer analog to digital, my system consists of notebooks, calendars, corkboards, and alarms. Your productivity system may look very different and that is fine, so long as it works for you and you can stick with it over the long haul.

7. Define your ‘better you.’

The time I’ve had at home has been insightful and thought-provoking. Relationships have been tested. Others have improved. I’ve had the opportunity to take an honest look in the mirror — to see who I was, how I was functioning, and what I wanted to improve. One year later, I have a clearer picture of who I want to be and how to get there. As the old normal creeps back in, I resolve not to lose sight of this new, better me — and to resist the urge to fall back on old, unhelpful habits. This will be hard, and totally essential as I stare down my F.O.O.N.

The past year has allowed me time for a rare and precious activity: introspection without distractions from the outside world. I realized the old normal needed some upgrades — especially in regard to my ADHD. My new mindset is to focus on becoming more organized and structured with a maintenance plan. My relationships are my priority. Kindness and compassion have replaced ego desires. To be honest, I don’t want to go back to the way it was; I want to make it better. These “rules of life” are the start to my better me, what’s yours?

10 Golden Rules Of Personal Branding

Creating a personal brand can be a daunting, mythical task. And one of the easiest ways to get lost in the process is to not know where to start. Even Oprah Winfrey began by going through several style iterations on a small local show before defining her voice into one of the most influential personal brands in the world.

In both our look-at-me cultural shift and evolving job market, it’s both helpful and necessary to stand out when applying for a job or starting your own company. A personal brand is for (almost) everyone. So here are 10 golden rules for creating an engaging, unique, and inviting personal brand.

1. Have a focus.

“Too many people are unfocused when it comes to press and coverage, trying to be “everything to everyone.” Decide what your key message is and stick to it,” says Cooper Harris, founder and CEO of Klickly. Her personal brand has undergone a dramatic shift—from working actress to respected tech entrepreneur and she has handled this shift by only focusing on one message at a time. Keeping your message focused for your target demographic will make it that much easier to both create content around your personal brand and have others define you.

In fact, Adam Smiley Poswolsky, millennial workplace expert and author of The Breakthrough Speaker, takes it one step furtherwhen he’s advising speakers: “Carve a niche, and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific.” And Juan Felipe Campos, VP of tech and partner at Manos Accelerator, goes one step further to focus on communities that he targets with his large-scale clients. “Keep your message and content consistent to one niche topic to become memorable within a targeted community.” The narrower and more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember who you are. And when it comes time to hire a speaker or a new employee, your narrowed-down brand will be what they remember.

2. Be genuine.

There’s an easy way to have an original personal brand—and that is to be genuine and authentic. Millennial influencer and head of marketing at Popular Demand, Monica Lin, says “People can see right through a disingenuous act.” The more obviously a brand is a copycat, the more the audience will call out the perpetrator for it. Monica’s personal brand experienced a huge amount of growth after she began engaging with her audience more meaningfully on Twitter.

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“Be genuine. It will make it much easier to manage your personal brand on a daily basis,” explained William Harris, Facebook ads expert at Elumynt. Your personal brand should be an easy daily filter that you create content and reach out to your audience with. And finally, Justin Wu, founder of CoinState says “Be a master of your craft, skillset or industry before starting a personal brand. Then your content will help amplify who you are.” When initially building his personal brand, he garnered a reputation of being an expert in his field while simultaneously amplifying on social media that same renown. If you’re deeply skilled in one area, your reputation alone will help you build the brand you want.

3. Tell a story.

If your personal brand isn’t telling a story, you’ve already lost half of your potential audience. Allen Gannett, chief strategy officer at Skyword and author of The Creative Curve explains it best:” The most effective personal branding strategy these days is to build a true narrative – single character monologues are boring in Tinseltown, and even more boring for your personal brand.” No one wants to hear you shout about your brand into the social media void, so create a story around your brand that your audience can engage with. Allen regularly meets and chats with his audience in airports around the world, further developing his warm and friendly personal brand.

One of the best ways to tell that story is through written content or video. For Pelpina Trip, social video strategist, this is definitely the case. Her own video channel on LinkedIn sees some of the highest levels of engagement across the platform. “The most personal way to communicate online is with video. Simply use your smartphone to video message your clients, make a personal connection with prospective clients and connect with co-workers. After all, you always have your smartphone on you!”

4. Be consistent.

Being consistent is very similar to having a narrow focus—it’s much easier to get recognized for one topic if you consistently create content and brand voice around it. “Ensure that your personal brand promise stays consistent, both online and offline,” explains Fyiona Yong, director and millennial leadership coach (ICF ACC). She regularly works with millennials in a corporate context to help them define their more conservative work goals. “You have to demonstrate consistency across your communication, gravitas, and appearance. Don’t underestimate how tiny inconsistencies can derail personal brand effectiveness.”

On the opposite, creative side, CyreneQ, a top storyteller on Snapchat, suggests “something consistent either visually or personality wise. Something unique that people can associate with your brand and know it’s you. For example, a sidekick mascot or having a catchphrase you say after every video – something people can fall in love with.” Her sidekick mascot, Ele, has garnered millions of views per Snap for brand work, allowing her fun personal brand to represent big box brands like Walmart and DC.  So whether you’re creating a wild, incredibly out-there fun brand or one that’s a bit more on the conservative, corporate side, consistency is key.

5. Be ready to fail.

Failure is tough, and all of us generally want to avoid it – that’s human nature. However, to have a personal brand that rises above the rest, you need to have a failure. Walt Disney spoke of this often when he reminisced about his failed first attempts at creating an animation brand. “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. ” And what can happen is never as frightening as not trying at all.

When Timothy Hoang, CEO of Stories By Tim, Inc. develops his influencer clients, he likes to tell them: “You’ll never achieve the best branding until you fail a couple times while pushing past your comfort zone.” The very best brands always come from repeated trial and error, mistakes and failures and not from instant perfection.

6. Create a positive impact.

After you’ve developed your personal brand over a period of time, there are generally two ways to continue to build your brand – hop over others and burn bridges or steadily grow a community around your brand. Jacob Shwirtz, head of social partnerships at WeWork, who has worked with many of the top influencers in the world, including makeup personality, Michelle Phan, gives us this wisdom. 

My quick tip on personal branding is to remember you are your brand, no matter what your current job is, what project you happen to be working on at any one time or whatever the priority happens to be today… always keep in mind the impact you leave on others and remember all we have is our own reputation and that’s our brand , so be awesome to each other!

Keeping a positive attitude and helping others will only help healthily grow your brand in the long run.

7. Follow a successful example.

“People interested in personal branding need to start marketing themselves like the celebrities and influential people that they look up to every day,“ explains Jason Wong, CEO of Wonghaus Ventures. His own personal brand has gone viral several times, over subjects like ice cream in Japan, inflatable pool toys and memes, earning him the title of the “Meme King.” His success often comes from studying trends and popular individuals on different social media platforms and then implementing them with a twist. Creatively dissecting social analytics and establishing the next big trend can be within your grasp too, if you pay attention across all social media platforms and not simply focus narrowly on one of them.

8. Live your brand.

As mentioned before, one of the ways you can make building a personal brand difficult on yourself is to separate your brand from your personal life. While certainly doable, it’s easier when initially creating a personal brand to have your actual lifestyle and brand be one and the same.

Tim Salau, community builder and founder of Mentors & Mentees, who works with college students to help them build brands that will get them hired, believes in this idea as well.“Your personal brand should follow you everywhere you go. It needs to be an authentic manifestation of who you are and amplify what you believe.” With this in mind, your personal brand is not only a reflection of a series of job functions like marketing, finance or creative but also ideals like giving back, thoughtful leadership or mentorship.

9. Let other people tell your story.

The best PR is by word of mouth. Creating a personal brand in the public sphere is no exception to this rule. Aaron Orendorff, editor in chief at Shopify Plus, tells his personal story through lively videos and the occasional bunny co-host or two and his audience remembers. They’re able to recall the bright outfits and the animal friends and tie those pieces of the story to their interpretation of his brand. As he eloquently states: “Personal branding is the story people tell about you when you’re not in the room.” Jessie Maltin, co-host of Maltin On Movies works with her father, renowned film critic Leonard Maltin and has watched him build his career over the past several decades. “All you have in your life is your name and the reputation you garner.”

10. Leave a legacy.

Once you’ve built your personal brand with a reputation and community behind it, the next step is to think about the legacy that you’ll leave behind. What are the keywords and actions that you want to be known for? Blake Jamieson, artist at Blake Jamieson LLC, who paints pop art portraits of famous tech and sports heroes reminds us that: “Building a personal brand is much bigger than building a business. The only exit strategy is legacy.”

A personal brand is a lifelong project that constantly evolves and changes. Even the experts who build or enhance the biggest brands in the business know that there are no hard-set rules for creating a personal brand. But these general guidelines help provide first steps, especially if you’re starting a new brand or rebranding.

Creating the right personal brand will not only help you be known in your field and consistently land work but it could be the difference between “Who are you?” and “Thank you for being here” in your career .

What Is Your Personal Vision Statement?

Are You Living Your Personal Vision?

  • If so, you’re more likely to be living a happy and fulfilling life!


What is your Personal Vision Statement?

  • It’s your written commitment for how you want to live your life.
  • It influences every aspect of your life and career.
  • It’s considered one of the most important factors for success and satisfaction.


Does a Personal Vision Statement Really Matter?

  • Without a Personal Vision Statement – you may be more likely to end up in a stress cycle.
    • In a stress cycle, people tend to feel their lives lack meaning and purpose.
    • You’re more likely to make reactive decisions, resulting in short-term fixes, rather than comprehensive long-term solutions.
    • Decisions are driven by power and status, rather than by meaningful personal values.
  • With a Personal Vision Statement – you’ll be working within the balance cycle.
    • In a balance cycle, people are more satisfied and productive, and live their lives with more meaning and purpose.
    • You’re more likely to make viable decisions based on long-term goals for your life.
    • Decisions are driven by your Personal Vision, directed by your internal purpose and values.


5 Steps to Create and Use Your Personal Vision Statement

  1. Create your Personal Vision Statement by writing one to two paragraphs listing your values and abilities, and the things that are most meaningful to you in your life.
  2. Use your Personal Vision Statement to create your life and career goals.
  3. Refer to your Personal Vision Statement for each important decision you make.
  4. Periodically check that the actions you’re taking align with your goals and work toward fulfilling your Personal Vision.
  5. Review this exercise regularly with your coach and revise as needed.


Are you ready to discover your Personal Vision and start living a more fulfilling life?

Marilyn is a Certified Personal Vision Coach and a Certified Affiliate for the Highland’s Ability Battery.  Ask her about the Personal Vision Coaching Program.


Schedule a complimentary 10-minute introductory meeting or your full 45-minute consultation –  email Marilyn at: Marilyn@fettnercareerconsulting.com


Is Your College Student Stressed-out?

  • Is your college student experiencing stress that’s getting in the way of their studies? Are they even considering dropping out of school?
  • In contrast to college, high school is more structured, and students can feel like they’re in a ‘safe’ place. For many students, the less structured college environment is the first time they are in charge of managing their time and balancing academics, work, and even their social life – without their parents’ guidance.
  • Many students also experience pressure and feel overwhelmed and lost, when the time comes that they need to decide on a major and career focus.

If you’ve noticed any of the following in your college student, it may be time for them to talk to someone:

  • Trouble focusing on conversations or academics; poor sleep habits
  • Inability to decide on a major; lack of career direction – feeling stuck or lost
  • Don’t know what they ‘want to be when they grow up’
  • Worry about the unknown; fear of failure
  • Talking about how they want to drop out or that ‘college isn’t worth it’

Your student is not alone but they may need guidance to help them gain self-knowledge to understand themselves better and how their attributes match with careers. They may also benefit from enhancing their organizational and stress management skills.

These skills and self-knowledge can help your student with goal-setting for their future direction and improve their ability to manage their time and commitments. Taking these actions can help students feel less overwhelmed because they will have a direction and focus for their future.

To schedule a complimentary 10-minute introductory meeting or your full 45-minute consultation please email Marilyn at: Marilyn@fettnercareerconsulting.com


Stuck in a Job…With Paralyzing Stress

Our career choices can give us purpose, as well as pain.

Many people feel like they are ‘stuck’ in their job – like there’s no way out – and they’re unsure how to get out or where to go.

  • For some, it may be easier to change jobs or even careers and move on.
  • For others, it can feel overwhelming and may not seem like a realistic option for multiple reasons.
    • Maybe you have a family that depends on your income, and the sheer thought of leaving your job makes you worry that it would create a gap in your finances and cash flow.
    • Or maybe you’ve applied to other jobs, but you haven’t gotten any responses, and you’re feeling rejected.

Often there are viable options, but it could simply be that you don’t know where to begin.  Generally speaking, identifying a good-fit option, when changing careers or jobs depends upon matching a job/career with:

  • Your attributes – transferable experience and skills (that you enjoy using), personality style, interests, values, natural abilities, and other factors influencing this decision.
  • Your goals – your desired lifestyle and income.
  • Job market reality – it’s important that the employment segment you’re considering is actively hiring.

3 steps for getting unstuck and exploring your options:

  1. Gain a realistic and thorough understanding of your attributes.
  2. Clarify your goals.
  3. Understand the job market.

Keep in mind – small amounts of stress about work are common, such as having a big presentation coming up. But feeling like you’re trapped is something you may need to look at, for your own happiness and well-being, as well as, the happiness and well-being of the people who care about you.

If you’re experiencing any of the following, then it’s time to get professional coaching support:

  • You feel stuck or trapped
  • You get the Sunday blues
  • You spend a lot of time venting about your job
  • You don’t have the energy for outside activities or socializing with friends

Marilyn can help – with clarifying your attributes, identifying job/career options, revising your resume and LinkedIn so they are targeted to your job direction, creating a robust job search plan, and fine-tuning your interview skills.

To schedule a complimentary 10-minute introductory meeting or your full 45-minute consultation please email Marilyn at: Marilyn@fettnercareerconsulting.com

4 Things to Do While Looking for a Job – especially During the Holidays!

Looking for work is stressful and tiring, especially around the holidays. It can be easy to get into a rut and lose focus on your goal. But being strategic about your job hunt can give you the motivation to keep going. Here are 4 things every job seeker should do to maximize chances for success.

  1. Start networking like it’s your job

You need to get out and start networking like your job depends on it…because it does! Although virtual networking has its role, nothing replaces meeting someone ‘in person.’  Yes, it may feel awkward to go to an event where you don’t know people, but the more connections you make, the easier it will be to find your next dream job.

  • To help you prepare – start a collection of ‘conversation starters’ and practice them out loud to get comfortable. (Yes, out loud!) Also – prepare some responses to questions you may be asked.
  • Visualize yourself having a relaxed and enjoyable time at a networking event or holiday party. Repeat the positive visualization and stay focused on your goal.
  • By being prepared, you’ll be more comfortable and have a better chance of making some good connections – and maybe even enjoy yourself!
  1. Take breaks

While it’s important to keep yourself motivated and productive, it’s also important to carve out time for rest and relaxation. Looking for a job can be one of life’s most stressful events, so building in some time for self-care–like exercising and spending time with friends–can keep you sane during the process.  It can also keep you feeling positive, which is critical for networking – and interviewing!

  1. Get on LinkedIn. If you already have a profile, ensure it’s optimized

Employers are increasingly using social media to vet potential employees. Your LinkedIn profile is going to be at the top of the search results, when employers search your name online. Invest time to make sure your profile is complete, current, and accurately showcases your skills and experience.

  • Ask your connections to endorse you with personal and professional recommendations
  • Ensure you have a current professional photo as part of your profile
  • Use key phrases in your headline and check that your summary strategically highlights your employment experience
  1. Get Organized

Job searching is messy.  You need to make sure you’re keeping track of your network, everyone you’ve reached out to, and give yourself reminders to circle back with them in order to make progress. In addition to tracking and updating your network, you also need to organize other components of looking for a job:

  • Design a targeted job search and networking plan.
  • Create a list of targeted employers and build network contacts in those organizations.
  • Follow your plan and review often to identify what’s working and what needs to be adjusted.

If you want to explore how to land your dream job, contact Marilyn today!



So…Did You Find A Job Yet?

Ahh, the Holidays. A time to relax, enjoy family and friends, and eat until your heart’s content.

Or is it?

The Holidays can be like the hunger games; you never know when your family is going to strike. And if you’re recently unemployed, you know the dreaded, ‘so, have you found a job yet?’ question will arise – multiple times.

Certain family members have a way of asking a perfectly normal question yet it gets under your skin and feels like a jab.

This year try to put yourself in the right headspace before opening the door to greet the family. Planning ahead can help us feel more confident in difficult situations and will prevent you from being caught off guard and reacting in a way you might later regret.

Here are 5 ways to help get your through the Holidays when you’re unemployed:

  1. Take a deep breath before you answer a question

It’s natural for someone to ask what the next step in your life is. If you see this person once a year, they may be genuinely curious and coming from a good place. Take a deep breath and assume they are asking because they care.

  1. Watch the alcohol consumption

Alcohol impacts our thought process significantly and can cause us to speak without thinking. Thinking clearly and responding appropriately are much easier when alcohol isn’t a factor.

  1. Ask them a question

There’s nothing like a classic turnaround when a relative asks a question that’s a little more invasive than you’re interested in. Ask about someone’s first semester at college, another’s new job, an upcoming vacation or compliment a bracelet.

  1. Be Honest

Sometimes the best response is the direct response. It’s simple: Just tell them you don’t want to talk about the job situation. Be kind about it but know that it’s OK to tell someone you’d prefer to discuss something else.

  1. Post-Holiday self-care

Now that you’ve made it through another Holiday with family, take care of yourself. Sometimes we tend to over think a conversation we had and allow it to get the best of us.

They are family, and deep down we really do love them. So, when you’re frustrated, try to remember all the things you are grateful for in your life – even nagging family members.

If you want to explore a career change, Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace — to answer these questions and help you gain direction for a Best-Fit career.


Need a Career Change? But Confused About Your Career Direction?

Now that you’ve identified your personality style, natural abilities, values, and passionate interests, using validated assessments, how do you choose a career?

My 3-Step Holistic & Collaborative Approach:

  • First -we’ll use the prioritized data from your assessments, along with your desired lifestyle and life goals, to create Your Best-Fit Snapshot or Career Profile.
  • Second – we’ll explore and assess careers that most closely match your Snapshot/Profile.
  • Third – if your Best-Fit careers require further education or training, we’ll explore schools that are a good fit for you. On the other hand, if no additional education or training is needed, we’ll design a job search plan and assess specific jobs and employers to identify a good fit – and figure out which jobs you should apply to.

3 Ways to Tell if a Job – and Employer are a Good Fit

  1. Competent Leaders. Based on data from LinkedIn, employers’ websites, Glass Door, Best Places to Work, and similar resources, along with your professional network, you can figure out whether you like and can respect a company’s leaders. Some questions you can ask are:
  • Do you like the leaders as people? For example, from what you know about them, do they seem to have integrity, care about the well-being of their employees, and are they genuine?
  • Secondly, do they have strong leadership skills? The best companies to work for have great leaders. You can distinguish strong leaders from the average manager by assessing qualities, such as self-confidence, industry knowledge, respect for others, and an optimistic attitude.
  1. Location. For many individuals, where the job is located can be of great importance.
  • Proximity to the arts, culture, recreational activities, mountains, the ocean, family, friends, and good schools can all be factors that are important to you.
  • Do you prefer to work remotely? Does the company offer remote working opportunities?
  • The length and nature of your commute can also influence how desirable a job is to you.
  1. Mission of the Company. Make sure you can embrace the goals and core values of a prospective employer.
  • The mission statement conveys the company’s direction.
  • It also outlines goals for what you and your team or department will need to focus on accomplishing. It’s important to determine if the company’s values are a fit with your own.

If you want to explore a career change, Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace — to answer these questions and help you gain direction for a Best-Fit career.