Are you looking to activate your mind, body, and heart? Career Transition Coach, Lara Buelow has just the thing for you. Learn all about how to join the September Challenge in this episode and then, connect with Lara at LaraBuelow.com.
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Join the September Challenge with Lara Buelow
Transcript is an approximation of our conversation
[00:00:00] Zette Harbour: I’m Zette Harbour. And today I’m here with Lara Buelow. Lara is a Career Transition coach and also a creative, among many other things.
[00:00:10] Lara, welcome. Thanks for being here. Tell us all a little bit about you and the work you do.
[00:00:16] Lara Buelow: Hi Zette. Thanks for having me. The work that I do, so. When I think about like, who am I? The first thing that always comes to mind is first and foremost, I’m an artist. That’s very much part of my identity.
[00:00:31] And the reason that’s important is because many of the people I work with I say are like creatively inclined in a variety of ways. But really the way that ties back to me is I really see everything as a creative endeavor, right? Like life is a creative endeavor and about expression and, you know, for better, for worse.
[00:00:56] Our careers often become a very defining part of who we are and how we live our lives. I very much drank be like, I want to be passionate about what I do. Kool-Aid if you will. Though I, by no means believe that that’s. That’s like should be a rule for people or even a guide necessarily. I think that’s a very challenging cultural shift that we’re going through.
[00:01:20] But you know, like as someone who considers art a form of activism. Like I identify a lot with activism and counter-cultural ideas that I like to weave into my work and into career transition. So a lot of the career transition work that I do is to have people honor more of their creative work, even if that means holding on to their current position.
[00:01:44] So, one of my favorite examples is a former dancer who works for a health insurance company in San Francisco. Who also does housing equity advocacy. Right. And so working for the appropriate company that recognizes her creative talents and passions, but holding onto that position because it gives her access and the opportunity to do the things that she really loves, which aren’t necessary.
[00:02:11] Like that’s not necessarily health care for her. So yes. So for me, the career transition work is around. Not so much like finding happiness necessarily, but finding more purpose and meaning. And that’s very much the work that I do with people, whether that’s business or lifestyle.
[00:02:29] Zette Harbour: Yeah. And you’ve really captured
[00:02:32] I think, the great challenge of our time. Because people are aware enough that they know that they want to have meaning and a sense of purpose. They want fulfillment in their lives and yet not everyone can really fully fund their lifestyle with the things that are meaningful to them.
[00:02:54] Because if let’s say being meaningful is doing habitat for humanity projects. That’s on a volunteer basis. And therefore, you know, if your great love is there and you want to be able to pursue that, how do you craft a life that enables you to do that? And so many people are connecting to their creative selves and recognizing that that’s a really valuable part of life to nurture and nourish, right?
[00:03:19] Lara Buelow: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of that, we like to nourish and support it in children. But that also eventually gets sort of weeded out along the way, depending on who you’re surrounded by. Right. But often the norm is for that to become less and less. So it’s a very important part that can be unearthed and like rediscovered in many different ways.
[00:03:46] Zette Harbour: Well, yeah, because it’s such a source of real energy and vitality in life. You know, if you have any sort of creative inclination and I genuinely imagine. That’s most of us. Right. And you could tell us more about that, but it feels like when you, as you say, as we grow older and we imagine that being an adult means letting go of that joyful exploration that is creativity.
[00:04:14] We lose touch with the place in ourselves. Could be a real source of like I said, joy and vitality, right?
[00:04:22] Lara Buelow: Yeah, absolutely. And I just think that to me, everyone is creative in some form and every type of work is creative in some form. And if it’s sucking the creative creativity from you, then it’s likely a position that isn’t particularly healthy for you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whatever.
[00:04:44] So. Yeah, the work that, you know, the whole reason I like to coach people in career transition is to find where the overlap is possible and appropriate. Because like you said, you know, there’s many people like to think that if money were no object. Then they would do volunteer projects all the time or something like that.
[00:05:08] With some clarity, that may or may not be true. But the idea there is that there are really creative work arounds for instilling your current position or a new position with a type of creativity that really lights you up and makes you feel more fulfilled.
[00:05:27] Zette Harbour: So, what I think I’m hearing you say is they don’t have to leave their whole life as it is now in order to really experience the fulfillment and joy of being a creative and following their passion.
[00:05:39] Lara Buelow: Definitely. Like, I think that the Kool-Aid very much is like, I’m not passionate career and like quit your day job and like go do that other thing and like start a business. And that can lead to like real disaster in many cases. And so. You know, I just, part of me is like, wait, you know, like part of me is very much that person where I’ll [00:06:00] just like throw caution to the wind and like completely upend my entire life and change things.
[00:06:05] But you always have to like weigh your particular risk aversion level, and then your financial situation, what you’re willing to give up. And what you have available to you in order to pursue those things.
[00:06:20] Zette Harbour: So you’re talking about this, Kool-Aid, this overarching message that if you’re really alive, if you’re really taking charge of your life, you follow your passion no matter what. And so that can lead to, as you say, some disastrous consequences in the sort of financial realm of one’s life. And also I think that puts a burden of guilt and maybe even shame on the people who don’t feel it’s right for them to make that jump, no matter how much they desire the life of a creative.
[00:06:51] Lara Buelow: For me, it’s not even necessarily talking about the money side. I mean, I, that’s a very important part of the conversation. It’s one that I have with my clients all the time. It’s also something where I think about you know, the emotional consequences as well.
[00:07:04] Like a lot of, I think that the Kool-Aid can kind of wash over this idea of like, oh, go follow your passions. You know, there are a lot of reasons not to do that. One. I hear a lot of artists say that if they make art for money, it changes their relationship to their art. Right. I don’t have that problem personally, not at the moment anyway.
[00:07:26] But all but that That basically, you know, once you do something for money and you’re doing it, like who knows 30, 40, 50 hours a week, your relationship to that thing changes and evolves in a way that you may or may not like, right. So that’s, that’s a big deal. And also the other thing that many of my clients come to me with is sort of.
[00:07:48] What do I want to do when I grow up? Right. Like what is my passion? I don’t even know like what that would look like. And so the idea of like leaving your current situation to like strike out on this passionate path is a bit of a forest because it’s, I would say, you know, it’s this chicken and the egg, and it’s like, well, there’s a lot of different ways to figure that out.
[00:08:09] But do the figuring out before you make any huge decisions so that you can create a buffer of resilience around you. Right? A conversation that I have with my clients all the time is this idea of a lot of the times we have to humans need to be in pain.
[00:08:28] In order to make a significant life or behavioral change, right. So we need to suffer in order to implement meaningful change in our life. And it’s unfortunate, right? So when I come across somebody who is not in that realm, this is a very unusual situation. And they’re doing a lot of the preventative work necessary to rework their career or whatever situation or their business, whatever we’re working on in order to move forward in a healthy way.
[00:09:00] Zette Harbour: That’s great. And it makes me curious about tools and strategies that you share with them so that they have active, conscious ways of working with it. But I’m also curious about the inner blocks that you find in people, the reasons they don’t move forward. Not being so much about external circumstances, but internal ones.
[00:09:22] Lara Buelow: So resources and starting down that path. So basically, you know, really simply like from the very beginning, say somebody stumbles across your website or across your Instagram, I’m ready to talk to somebody other than my spouse or mom about this.
[00:09:41] You know, I do something as simple as like a clarity call, right? A complimentary clarity call. We get to introduce each other and just talk about what’s going on. Right? Like, tell me about yourself, where are you at? And I’m taking some time to just sort of unpack. What your situation is right. And that’s like, you know, where are you at financially?
[00:10:01] Are you in that like red pain suffering zone, right. Does change need to happen like this week? Cause you’re in a really bad work situation or does change need to happen in. You know, like six months from now and you saved up this great cushion and you’re going to take yourself on a sabbatical or vacation.
[00:10:23] Right. And then move into something new. So really the resources, I mean, I can talk resources all day. Like there’s really, especially in the age of the internet, right? We all have access to an insane amount of resources, too many really where you can find somebody doing some, the thing that you find interesting and making money from it, and then begin your own journey of like, how can I create?
[00:10:50] Zette Harbour: I hear you, it. Can be almost too many resources that aren’t vetted. You’re not even sure that the information you’re receiving is going to be relevant to your personal situation.
[00:11:01] And maybe you follow some bit of strategy or use a resource and it’s really a bad fit for where you want to go. So I can see the value in having someone who’s already done all that work. You vetted these resources, right? Even though everyone’s path is unique, there’s a certain set of instructions or certain set of guidelines or frameworks that must be universal to some extent.
[00:11:29] Lara Buelow: To some extent, and, you know, I’m one of those people, even in my artwork where I really liked to just collect all of the things that inspire me and speak to me and then just like smash them all together as much as possible. So I’ve used very much my own experiences in painting, painting on canvas and murals, to talk to artists about where are they at and how can they build business systems to support them in their creative endeavors.
[00:11:56] Plus setting up a program that does set people up for [00:12:00] meaningful and purposeful career transition, right? Like if you need to quit your job tomorrow and find something new, I’m not your person because you need time and space in order to build meaningful and purposeful change, right.
[00:12:16] I have my own program and recently ran the Roadmap Retreat for Career Transition, which was a small group coaching experience over six weeks. We talked a lot about building that meaningful transition and creating the accountability for real follow-through.
[00:12:33] There’s actually two things that I want to say.
[00:12:37] One, which is the designing your life framework, which was developed primarily by two Stanford professors in their books, Designing Your Life and Designing Your Work Life.
[00:12:48] You’d think that they would have put a lot of the same information in both and they kind of did, but Designing Your Work Life, the second book is actually amazingly different, which I was so pleasantly surprised by. And also if you look them up online, great Ted talk plus free resources on their website, I’ll be certified.
[00:13:05] In their framework in July and hopefully be leading my own design your life groups, probably one this year and more next year, 2022.
[00:13:14] The second thing that I wanted to mention is an event that I started last year during the pandemic called the September Challenge, which is really an amalgamation of my work, but also a lot of my personal story that I call the September Challenge. It involves a daily habit of your choosing, right? So it could really be anything, but basically something that you want to start practicing every day for 30 days. And I encourage people to keep this very, very small, right. So a daily habit, a weekly community action, which for me, is about staying connected to activism. Whatever that means to you. For me, that’s usually an environmentally geared thing or a politically geared thing.
[00:14:03] Cause that’s where I feel like I have the most amount of work to do and room to grow. So, and then finally, the cardio plunge for lack of better term. So for me, for the last 12 years, I have a birthday ritual where I go do something active, where I get my heart rate up, and then I jump into a body of water.
[00:14:23] And so to simplify this for the participants, I basically just say the cardio plunge, get your heart rate up, whatever it is, like, push ups, jumping jacks, and then get wet in some form, even if that means like sticking your head under the sink. Right? So that there are no excuses. For me it means hopefully hiking somewhere and then jumping into like a wild body of water.
[00:14:47] But it by no means has to be that. So the September challenge is really trying to like game-ify and build community around purpose, meaning, staying connected to your values. Right? So, and that’s through behavioral habits, community action and staying active. Right? Most of us say we like love an adventure and that’s what the cardio plunge is about.
[00:15:12] And yeah. So that’s the September Challenge.
[00:15:15] Zette Harbour: I love it. I am picturing already the videos of people’s cardio plunges. Like do they?
[00:15:22] Lara Buelow: Yes. Yes. And you get there like I do with this whole thing where it’s like, you can submit your mailing address. Cause I’m a big snail mail nerd and you get things in the mail and there’s weekly calls that most of them are optional where you just show up and enjoy the community.
[00:15:36] And I share profiles of people who are participating. And so. Obviously during the pandemic, it was a little easier to start on September 1st, but for 2021, I will be starting after Labor Day. Because again, there’s a lot of people are like, well, I’m camping. And I also had people sending me photos and videos, from the woods being like, how do I do this while I’m camping?
[00:16:00] And you also get access to like a an accountability group, like for the month and that sort of thing. So yes, I’ve received many videos and photos that are like pretty funny. ….
[00:16:11] Zette Harbour: I love it. It . Sounds really exciting and fun, and I love that you’ve narrowed in on three incredibly simple actions that people can take and that they can choose what form those are. And I say simple, not because, but, but things can be simple and still not be easy. Right. Things can be simple and still cause growth. So I really appreciate that you’ve given these really these opportunities for growth that encompass the value of simplicity while they also really nurture people’s becoming more of who they’re here to be and expressing themselves in the world in a way that gives them more meaning.
[00:16:52] Lara Buelow: Yeah, I’m really glad you said that the simple, not easy. Cause that’s another conversation that I have with every client ever. Right. And it’s amazing how humans complicate things for themselves. And so, you know, I’m always amazed at how big.
[00:17:08] People are thinking for the September challenge. They’re like, I’m going to meditate for half an hour every day. If you can do that amazing, go for it. I’m 100% your cheerleader. But more often than not, if you’re just starting, right? Like this is a habit hack, if you will, pick something that you can accomplish in under a minute, just to start carving that new pathway in your brain. Because that way, if you haven’t done it by the end of the day, you can still do it and do it in under a minute. Right. So if you’re choosing something that’s challenging, just keep that in mind.
[00:17:40] Right. So the simple, not easy is absolutely where it is, where it’s at. And I just feel like we all get to this point where life does just get more and more complicated as we go along. You know, now I have two kids and now I have a house and the dog and all these things and, and just feel like I’m [00:18:00] drifting away from who I feel I am. And, well, no, you’re still that person. You just have to find a different way of engaging with those things, which is, you know, to me now, even more important because I want to pass those values onto my children. Right.
[00:18:17] 100 percent it’s
[00:18:19] Zette Harbour: so important. And it’s so easy as you’re describing, we’ve all experienced it.
[00:18:23] Life takes over. If we are not intentional.
[00:18:28] How can people sign up for the September challenge?
[00:18:31] Lara Buelow: All right. So to sign up, you go to www. Lara Buelow.com, which is my website. There will be a link to the September challenge landing page. You just fill that out and you’ll get all of the necessary registration information. And then, you know, once we get going, there will be an amazing community waiting for you on Mighty Networks.
[00:18:54] So again, by signing up, you’ll receive all of that information. And you can also follow along on my Instagram, which is at Lara Buelow. On Instagram and, you know, I’ve got like the boomerangs and the reels and all kinds of fun information that will show you, what are people doing for their cardio plunge?
[00:19:14] What are people doing for their community action? You know, who’s, who’s killing it on the daily habit or not, which is okay too.
[00:19:24] Zette Harbour: Yeah. You learn a lot about yourself when you set a goal and find that. Life gets in the way or life has gotten in the way. And you learn why that happens, how that happens and what you want to maybe shift about yourself and your belief, any kind of limiting beliefs you have or any kind of energetic blocks you have around that. So, yeah, missing the goal is also such a valuable opportunity to learn. Well I’m excited. I think this sounds like a lot of fun and I’m so glad that there’s still time for people to sign up.
[00:19:54] It’s getting close, but I think yeah, I love what you’re doing. And so I’m guessing there, especially on your Instagram, there must be previous years videos or photos and things like that too. So people can check that out if they want some, some ideas. So this sounds like a lot of fun.
[00:20:09] Lara Buelow: Yeah, it is definitely that’s like where it’s coming from too.
[00:20:12] Right. Like, especially since it was created during the pandemic, it was, let’s do something fun. Right? Like everybody is at home and suffering in a different way and at different intensity levels. But anyways, like let’s focus on fun with meaning. Right. And you know, this you’re a coach. People always ask me, how do I hold myself accountable?
[00:20:32] Sad, but true. It’s like, well, we’re human. So you might be particularly good at holding yourself accountable, but the truth of the matter is it’s a lot easier and more reliable to have other people in your corner with you, which is one of the reasons I love coaching because if I have a coach and I have regular meetings with that person, my accountability skyrockets, Right.
[00:20:58] Because most, 99.9% of deadlines in this life are very, they’re arbitrary, right. Especially when you’re running a business for yourself, nobody is like looking over my shoulder, being that better be done by that date. It’s, well, if you fall flat on your face, it’s on you.
[00:21:15] So that’s also baked into it, right? It’s fun with accountability and just building that community and some people , you know, they find their forever accountabili- buddy or something.
[00:21:26] Zette Harbour: Accountabili-, buddy. I love that.
[00:21:29] Lara Buelow: Yeah, you will be way more productive with an accountabili- buddy.
[00:21:33] You and I just happened to be professional accountability buddies. Right. And it turns out people pay for, or they pay attention to the things that they pay for. Right. So I am currently still in the mindset of, there will always be a free way to participate in the September challenge, but also.
[00:21:54] There’s always room for people to support the work. Because the September challenge is a lot of work on my end, work that I love.
[00:22:05] Zette Harbour: You’re creating a space for people within which they can not only have fun, but they can strengthen their connection to these different parts of themselves, which really, it just creates greater awareness and consciousness.
[00:22:16] And that carries out into the world in so many ways that you can’t even necessarily always predict. And you’re absolutely right when I have invested in, not just my attention or even my time, but when I invest my money, I am telling myself something. I measure my investment by how much I’m willing to spend on something. And that tends to go hand in hand with how much of my energy, how much my, of attention, how much of my commitment. So it’s interesting because money isn’t a thing, but it is a measurement of other things.
[00:22:52] Lara Buelow: Yes. So, I mean, and that’s something I’ve been learning a lot about from myself as well, like building different community spaces and group programs and thinking about the money side of my own businesses, really. Actually the last coach that I was working with, I’ll do like a special shout out to them because they’re amazing.
[00:23:12] Bear, Hey bear in new Orleans. Love their work right they are in the LGBTQ I non-binary space, but they’re also in the business of toppling the patriarchy and shifting away from capitalism. So that’s actually, the reason I chose to work with them is again, because I feel like as an artist, as someone who feels like a lot of my values are a bit counter culture in the way that I choose to live my life.
[00:23:37] I want to continue to draw that community around me and support each other in that, we don’t have to do business as usual. Right? Like what does feminism mean to me today? How can the September challenge or any of my work support people in not giving all of their money to Amazon. Right. And let’s use money to [00:24:00] amplify our voices.
[00:24:01] Right. Because that shifts power to other people. If you give money to small businesses, businesses run by people of color, et cetera.
[00:24:11] Zette Harbour: Oh yeah. Money is an important tool. It isn’t in itself actually, ‘the thing,’ right, but it’s a force that we can direct in ways that either really nurture and nourish our values and who we are,
[00:24:30] or if we’re not even thinking about it, we may not realize that we’ve made financial choices that go against our values. And so that awareness in that connection is so important. And I think that not only do we, by investing our money with people whose values align with ours, right. And support independent businesses, people of color women, But that we also really become more aware of who we are and why we are.
[00:24:59] Right. Because we understand that we’re, just like when you buy food, you’re giving the world a message about what you value about how food is produced and in our world, any way you use money is going to express your values, right?
[00:25:17] Lara Buelow: Yes. And I think that going back to Bear, in a situation. Bear does a really great job of helping me, us, their clients understand how we can build an anticapitalist business.
[00:25:35] And anti-capitalism just to be clear, doesn’t mean anti-money or a lot of like, or anti-government or anything like that. what is anti-capitalism? We don’t really know yet. It basically just means a system and way of being that we haven’t fully defined, but just not participating by the standard set of rules. Then there’s the whole question of like, well, some people aren’t getting paid fairly for the work that they do. And so they don’t have the resources to fully express their values or purchase, organic food or whatever. Right.
[00:26:12] And those people, people typically have less time to invest back into themselves, which therefore gives them even less money to make those decisions. Right. Which is why it’s so important for those of us who do have resources already available to us. To divert our resources towards those people to have a more equitable expression of values in our economy.
[00:26:37] Zette Harbour: Beautifully said. And how do you spell Bear’s name, full name?
[00:26:41] Lara Buelow: Bear, B E A R. H E B E R T H.
[00:26:51] I’m just noticing a pattern that I have in myself, which is , for me, I’m very , I’m a web spinner, right? I think very big picture. But then I also work on like weirdly granular things. And then I begin to build all these connections that seem relevant to me and make sense in my own head, but may not be relevant to others.
[00:27:09] So. I just want to take a moment to connect to the dots here. I’m talking about a lot of big things, like patriarchy, capitalism, non-binary stuff, right? So to break it down and be like, okay, what does that mean for me as a coach and why I’m here speaking to you?
[00:27:26] Is that to me, we are whole people and that’s what I bring to a coaching. Designing your life. Environment. My work in the world here is to inspire others, to include their whole person and their values in their life. And oftentimes the way that that is expressed in my work is working on career transition, right?
[00:27:52] Looking at, and the way that you and I are discussing that is, we all make choices and we have the power to make choices that are more in line with our values. Sometimes that’s in a very small way that doesn’t seem loud and sexy and showy to the world, but can still be very powerful. And other times it looks a certain way.
[00:28:12] let’s say you like totally changed your career path. And people are like, oh my God. You know, and it may or may not have the same internal or value implications..
[00:28:24] Zette Harbour: Okay. What are you going to do for the September challenge?
[00:28:29] Lara Buelow: Oh, my goodness. Well, I’ve obviously I’ve put a lot of thought to this, cause I’m always thinking about the September Challenge, it’s also the month of my birthday and I think September is the best month worldwide, around the globe, just amazing weather and great time to travel, beautiful transition from summer to fall.
[00:28:46] Right. What am I going to do for the September challenge? I’m kicking around the idea that I will abstain from alcohol. For my daily habit. That’s pretty big though. Right? That’s one where I would be like, wow, that’s big for me. But I’m thinking about that one because I feel like it would really help.
[00:29:03] Just being more present in my sleep and like overall health, then for the community activism, I go nuts in September with the September challenge because I compile an email with resources and all these things. So my community activism tends to be like sharing resources and then donating and having these types of conversations with people and highlighting people and what they’re doing. I always tell people, remember, keep it simple and small, right? Even picking up a piece of trash counts. So, so for me, the whole September challenge is kind of like this daily community involvement.
[00:29:37] And then the cardio plunge last year, I did a few of them. I think I did one once a week, I’m based in Denver, Colorado and Boulder Creek was by far the nicest water that I jumped into. Water can be water that’s worth swimming in. It can be pretty hard to get. To like come around [00:30:00] in Denver.
[00:30:00] The year before I went public with the September challenge, I was, hiking. St. Mary’s glacier and jumping into a glacial pool. And another year I went to hot springs and that sort of thing.
[00:30:13] September could look a little different well, and you know, there’s always the hose in the backyard. Yes. Oh yeah. We totally, I totally did a plunge in our like little mini hot tub too, where I just like jumped in and out and I was like party of one, done. Yeah.
[00:30:29] Zette Harbour: Well, we’ll look forward to seeing all the videos and the hearing the stories of that.
[00:30:34] And I’m so grateful that you could spend this time with us today. And I just want to give you a chance once again, please tell our listeners, how can they find you, connect with you, and learn more about what you do?
[00:30:47] Lara Buelow: Great. To find my coaching work and learn more about my coaching work. Go to my website.
[00:30:53] That’s www.LaraBuelow.com, L A R A B U E L O W.com. My email is Lara@larabuelow.com. So feel free to send me an email. And then of course I’m a big fan of Instagram and that is at Lara Buelow and you can find all of that information, those links through my Instagram.
[00:31:19] Zette Harbour: Beautiful. All right, Lara, enjoy the rest of your day.
[00:31:22] I know you have two small humans waiting for you. Yeah, no, no doubt. No doubt. All right, well, thanks again.
[00:31:34] Lara Buelow: Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate always staying in touch with you and our conversations and I just really appreciate you having me on today.
[00:31:43] Zette Harbour: Oh my pleasure. My pleasure.