I am transitioning to a new professional area, what advice can you give regarding finding my voice in my new career? – Melissa in Wisconsin
Well, I’m glad you asked, Melissa! I love talking about voice. It’s typically less complex than it might appear at first blush.
Finding one’s voice is usually about shushing all the other voices that aren’t, in fact, one’s own. These voices belong to everyone else – your mom, your dad, your gramma, your 8th-grade Home Ec teacher (because that used to be a thing,) – and they also belong to the nameless, faceless entities like social norms, gender expectations, glass ceilings, and I don’t know what all else.
To find your voice, it is imperative that you quiet all the other ones – that you recognize what is you, and what is not you. That you know what you believe v. what you are practicing. Sometimes I find myself engaged in mental practices that I don’t at all believe in. They are simply habit. Crappy, outdated habit. Once I see that, I can drop them.
I’m reminded of that Shel Silverstein poem…
Separating out the mustn’ts, the don’ts, etc. from your own ideas is one of those simple-but-not-easy endeavors. People have different tactics: exercise, meditation (i.e. mental exercise), making art of whatever sort, journaling, receiving bodywork (massage, acupuncture, etc.)
The idea here is to do something – or a combination of things – that will help you to connect with your own natural sense.
What’s natural sense? Never heard of it, you say? That’s because it’s a phrase I just made up 5 seconds ago. Natural sense is a combination of common sense and intuition. It’s more practical than intuition alone, and it’s more mysterious than common sense. Natural sense. It’s the good shit.
Changing professional directions is a fabulous time to do some voice excavation. It’s like how moving gives you a chance to declutter; you look at your stuff differently when you’re considering boxing it up and carting it around and unboxing it again. You ask, “Do I really need/want this XYZ?”
Now that you’re shifting into something different, you can dust off some items that you’ve not been able to use before – maybe you now have the chance to be more informal, something you’ve always wanted, for example. Take a look at what you’ve held onto mentally, or what you’ve been telling yourself you “can’t have.” Since you’re rewriting your professional parameters, you can decide what to incorporate and what to discard.
I’ve found that quieting the other voices through any of the above moves and recognizing your natural sense are all you need to do. “Finding” your voice is really a matter of calling it home, and clearing the way for it to show up.
Have a question?
I’d love to answer your questions about writing, communication, grammar, messaging, branding… and whatever else you toss my way!
I’m Mary Beth Huwe, content strategist. I help entrepreneurs identify, articulate, and translate their most essential messages into kickin’ content that is engaging, communicative, and practical.
These essays are forays into the art and essence of communication. They have not been subjected to the full scrutiny of my editor’s eye(s), and may contain typos. (But you’ll probably never find apostrophe abuse, because that’s just cruel.)