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CARYN GILLEN

Caryn and her husband Todd enjoying their little one Liv. 

Caryn and her husband Todd enjoying their little one Liv. 

CARYN GILLEN
on overcoming limiting thoughts and reaching goals

 

Caryn is a little different than the rest of the women that I have interviewed to date. I’m lucky to have had Caryn in my life as a friend for quite a few years now. I’ve been around to witness a bunch of milestones in her life and career. In the time I’ve known her, I have seen Caryn secure her dream job, excel in that role, start her own side gig, grow her side gig to the point that she could quit said dream job, and now she’s killing it running her own business. Oh, and she also bought and updated a house and had a little girl in this time. 

This is a woman that is 100% in the driving seat of her own life and relentlessly pursues what she wants. It has been an inspiration to watch her go after (and get) what she wants. 

Caryn trained as a psychologist and life coach, and was able to use her killer leadership skills and training in her most recent gig as a program manager for Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC), a non-profit research center dedicated to increasing the scientific understand of psychological processes related to healthy development and family functioning. I remember when she got the job and how happy I was for her that she snagged her dream job. 

While she really enjoyed her work and made an amazing contribution at OSLC, her dream has always been to be an entrepreneur. So, she did the work of peeling back the layers of what really set her heart on fire and found that she is most passionate about helping powerhouse women reach their goals. She then dug even deeper to discover that her niche is helping high-achieving women end their struggle with their weight and food. 

As a powerhouse woman that works exclusively with powerhouse women, she has a lot of insights into living your best life and taking charge of your life and career. 

 

TAKEWAYS

1. DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK

We have a couple of strong biases in our lives that often keep us from achieving what we want – negativity bias and confirmation bias. 

Negativity bias is the concept that negative thoughts and emotions affect us more deeply than equally powerful positive thoughts and emotions. I’m sure you can think of examples of this in your own life. We ruminate on failures and upsetting interactions, turning them over in our minds (sometimes for decades!). But when was the last time that a memory of a positive experience kept you up at night? See?  

Confirmation bias is the tendency to cherry-pick evidence to confirm the beliefs and theories that we already hold, often overlooking compelling evidence that would be counter to our beliefs. This shows up everywhere — in politics, religions, workplaces, interpersonal relationships, and even in our relationship with ourselves. 

In Caryn’s work, she works with clients that have been very successful in many areas of their lives, but struggle in one area. Due to their negativity bias, their struggles eclipse their triumphs and they believe that they are deficient. Thanks to their confirmation bias, they focus on the experiences that are consistent with that belief. “See? I knew I couldn’t keep my word to myself,” or “I knew I wasn’t brave enough to reach for that stretch goal.”

Caryn has a simple solution to this line of thinking: curiosity.

She says we have to ask ourselves better questions. Curiosity staves out judgment, giving ourselves the space we need to make the positive changes in our lives and careers that we hope for. 

Here’s another opportunity to be kind to yourself and ask some probing questions, gently. “When are some times that I did show up for myself?,” “When was I brave, even in a small way?” 

Caryn says beliefs are just thoughts that you think over and over. They’re habitual thoughts, and...they’re changeable. I guarantee you that when you go looking for evidence that supports the life you want, you’ll find it. It may be slow at first, but with a little effort, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. 

 

2. GET THE RESULTS YOU WANT

I want to talk a little bit more about our thoughts because they’re our greatest change agent. Caryn uses a framework for coaching her clients that looks like this: 

Our thoughts create our feelings -> Our feelings drive our actions -> Our actions deliver results. 

If we don’t like the results that we’re seeing in any area of our lives, we need to change our thoughts. Thoughts are where it all begins. 

Take a moment to notice how empowering this concept is. I know a lot of people that feel beholden to their thoughts — that their thoughts happen to them. Well, good news folks: We absolutely have the power to control the thoughts that we think. Even deeply-held beliefs are changeable (remember they’re just habitual thoughts). 

To illustrate how powerful this framework is, I’ll give you a little personal example from a few weeks ago when Caryn helped me through a career obstacle.

As I was approaching the end of my MBA, I could feel my mind constrict around my desire to find my dream job. I wanted the job so bad! I’ve always been pretty good in interviews, but I could feel the limiting beliefs that I had allowed to accumulate to start undermining me. I wanted my interviewers to like me and choose me. I had fear about going for too long without an income. I had a belief that the jobs that I would really enjoy were a scarce resource. 

Those powerful negative thoughts are very damaging. I mean, what interviewer wants to offer a job to the lady that’s desperate? (The answer is none.) :(

Caryn guided  me through the framework starting at the end result: What result do you want? (To be seen as competent and valuable to the organization.) What action will that require? (To present myself as calm, competent, and confident.) What do you need to feel in order to act that way? (That I will get the job if it’s meant to be, and if not, it’ll all work out for the best. That I know that I have a lot to offer and I trust others to see it.) What do you need to think in order to feel that way? (I'm a catch! I will land well. People that I respect mirror that back to me all the time. I have been working toward this for a long time. I have what I need to be successful. In the past, when I didn’t get what I thought I wanted in the moment, I was glad with where I ended up.) 

Once I figured out which thoughts would help me get the results I wanted, I repeated them a bunch of times, especially whenever doubt encroached on me. And, guess what… It really works. I was able to loosen my grip on these jobs and bring my best self to the interviews. #winning #thanksCaryn #results

 

BONUS

Caryn generously made this offer to Doyenne Project readers: 

If you are interested in ending the struggle with food and your weight click here to get your FREE copy of Caryn's book, "I Wanted It."

#thanksagainCaryn