It’s April, and here in Wilmington, spring is in full swing. It’s warm enough to pull out sun dresses, swap skinny jeans for shorts, enjoy the azaleas blooming, and the pristine beaches are just asking us to take a towel and book out to catch some sun.
Since spring is often a time of renewal and change, I’ve asked Katherine Daniel, Director of People Operations at N2 Publishing to talk to all things spring and new beginnings. Katherine is an expert on change. She leads a huge team at N2 Publishing as the Director of People Operations. Not only does she help others navigate the changing seasons, but she has embraced her own new chapters in her joy-filled life.
Spring is a time of new beginnings. What do you love most about this season of turning over a new leaf?
I’ve always loved the energy a new beginning brings: the first day of school, a new diet, a new job, a new house—you name it. I experience a real rush when given the opportunity to do more, be more, and gain more!
Beyond the rush of new, there is a hope entwined in newness; a chance to take things to the next level. Change often has a bad connotation, but I believe there’s always good in change, no matter the circumstance. Sometimes it just takes shifting your perspective to see the good.
What have you learned about dealing with unexpected new beginnings?
You certainly can’t anticipate every new beginning, but you can control how you handle it. You can either get excited or fearful. Why not choose excitement? Why not choose to build something beautiful out of the chaos? I recently read Love Lives Here by Maria Goff. She writes about helping her young children envision that their Hawaiian hotel was built above hardened lava. I loved that story about something beautiful coming from such difficulty—so much so, I ordered a lava bead necklace as a reminder to myself that even though lava—much like a difficult experience—is hot, slow moving, and a drawn-out process, it eventually cools. The lava always cools; it can even become the very foundation on which beauty is built.
I’ve also learned to focus on the factors you can control and execute them well. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, he introduces the concept of a “circle of influence.” These are the factors you absolutely can change and guide. Work on a proactive state of mind: focus on the things you can control, put them in order of priority, and get to work! And the things you can’t control: seek help from others as much as possible. Whether it’s turning to friends and family, or expert care, I’m a big proponent of ensuring you’re moving through change with a focus on emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
How can someone reinvent their career, hobbies, or life?
If we’re trying to reinvent our life, we usually aren't coming from the most fantastic place—something is off. That’s a great time to get back to the basics. I love a good personality profile. My two current favorites are the DISC and the Enneagram. The key is to know your strengths and motivations. Beyond taking these tests, consider asking the people closest to you what they think are your greatest strengths and how those strengths could serve you in ways you’ve never thought. Once you’ve established your strengths, you’ll likely know what makes you tick and have a better understanding of what you want to pursue.
Next is the tricky part: accept that when it comes to making big changes in life, you’re going to move outside of your comfort zone. “New beginnings” is sometimes just a nice way of saying “change after a period of discomfort,” right? If that’s scary, enlist an accountability partner. If you want to develop a new hobby, find someone with the same interest. Searching for a new career? Find a friend who is skilled in the industry you seek or ask an HR professional to review your resumé. Having someone else speak into your life and enrich your decisions will serve you in more ways than you can ever do alone.
How has your career path been filled with new possibilities?
Understanding what’s truly important and fulfilling for me has made a huge difference in my career decisions. I’m able to focus on where I can use my abilities best. Because of that, I’ve never been hung up on achieving a particular title. I’ve never had all the answers, and I’ve made some mistakes, but that’s the beauty of realizing what’s important to you in a career. There’s a common theme to all my work: I know the impact I want to have, and I’m willing to be uncomfortable and make mistakes to ultimately become more effective in my role.
I’ve been fortunate to help build a department of one (myself!) at N2 Publishing to about 60 incredible team members. If someone told me five years ago I’d be heading up the People Operations division, I wouldn’t have even known what that meant and, therefore, would’ve discounted the idea. But like my dad always says, “Never close a door before it’s even been opened.” Taking risks, including keeping doors open, is an important part of discovering just how far your career can go. It’s kind of like dating; you know what you’re looking for to a certain extent, but a lot of it is knowing what you don’t want. Sometimes you must experience professional missteps to realize what’s important to you and what’s not.
What advice would you give a woman who is feeling stuck and wants to figure out how to bloom where she is planted?
My mom used to drive us to see my Great Aunt Edna for Thanksgiving. Nine times out of ten, the roads were incredibly icy, and it was a stressful drive. But she always said, “You can’t be stressed while you’re singing.” I remember her singing and singing and singing while she was driving—the whole way—to calm herself. Sometimes you have to sing when you feel stuck. The singing doesn’t make you bloom, but it can distract you just enough to see things differently or make it through a rough patch.
Sometimes being “planted” feels a lot more like being buried. If you feel this way, identify where it is you want to be. Then backtrack and establish concrete steps toward your goal. This is a great time to dig deep into the big questions like, “Who am I?” and “How can I contribute most in the world?”
One thing I love to do with the team at N2 is a personal hustle. We each decide on a career goal we want to accomplish and work on it for 30 or 60 days straight. We’ve seen and celebrated lots of measurable change through this exercise. This can be applied in your personal life as well.
Being stuck is more of a mindset, and many times it’s an environmentally influenced state of mind. Try updating your lighting or setting a reminder on your phone to smile, and appreciate what you have right now. Finding ways to incorporate joy in your life often has a ripple effect.
Katherine has so many practical takeaways for how you can make a change in your life, right now. So, I’m challenging you to identify your current struggle and apply one of Katherine’s methods to your struggle. Tell me in the comments what your struggle is and how you’re facing it down. And if you need more community or accountability in your life, check out our Inspiration Lab membership.