Show yourself compassion as you navigate your career journey

show yourself compassion - ada chen

When you get clarity on your purpose, you’re going to feel compelled to go all in — whether that means taking on a new role at work or building something new from the ground up.

I see this happening often in our community because our members are doers and really driven to make things happen for themselves. 

Sometimes, though, life takes an unexpected turn.

Work Bigger member Ada Chen was at the beginning of her journey into entrepreneurship when she became her father’s primary caretaker. He then passed over the holidays. 

Witnessing Ada navigate enormous challenges and the openness with which she shares herself has been truly inspiring. It’s so important to take time and honor the difficult life circumstances that come our way. 

Ada has accomplished so much and has made space for herself and her grief.

In this interview, Ada and I talk about:

  • Starting two businesses in the same year, and how the Work Bigger group coaching membership has been an asset to her growth,
  • How your everyday needs can turn into unexpected opportunities, and
  • When to step back and give yourself patience and compassion

The past year has been increasingly difficult for so many. As you’re reading, think about what’s resonating for you and why. Are you seeking more purpose in your life but facing challenging circumstances? 

Wherever you are is absolutely welcome and ok.

Here’s how Ada has navigated her difficult circumstances while continuing to lead with purpose.

What was your goal in joining the Work Bigger Group Coaching membership?

When I joined the Work Bigger Group Coaching membership, I was on a toxic team in an unhealthy work environment and really struggling to figure out my next career step.

I wanted to achieve clarity and figure out my mission so I could use it as a north star to guide me through future career choices.

I also found it beneficial to join a community where others were going through, or had been through similar experiences, and where I felt other members would hold space for me.

What have you accomplished since joining the membership?

Since joining, I’ve identified my mission and started to really understand myself better. Now I have a clearer view of my previous career decisions, the mistakes I’ve made, and the patterns of behavior and thinking that I am actively working to unlearn.

I’m more confident in my understanding of myself and what I want to do with my career in the short- and long-term. It’s really helped me feel empowered to build the career that’s right for me.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to have great conversations with other members. I’ve learned from their experiences and I’ve also been able to share my own experience and reflect on what I would have changed.

I’ve led sessions about going through the process of finding my mission and shared more tactical tips, like how to put up a website to build your personal brand.

In our more casual sessions, I’ve found that Work Bigger members are always there to listen and support each other. Being a part of that has been truly inspirational and powerful.

Tell me about what it felt like to find your purpose and mission! How are you currently following it?

My mission is to make the world a better place through leadership, empathy, and driving cultural change.

When I found my mission, I had a feeling it would eventually take me out of my corporate job and the broader tech world. It took some time for me to stop making excuses for myself and really come to terms with the fact that I was prepared to be an entrepreneur.

I took some time to identify ideas I wanted to work on and analyzed whether or not they would help me achieve my mission (or purpose). Around that time, my dad was hospitalized and I became his primary caregiver, causing me to also reevaluate my priorities and goals.

Being a caregiver was stressful and caused my skin to break out and form dry patches. When I couldn’t find a natural remedy that met my needs, I decided to make my own. I spent the summer doing research and development and, a few months later, I launched my business: an all natural, handcrafted skincare line called Chuan Skincare. Chuan Skincare was named after and inspired by my dad, who really valued natural remedies and high quality products.

Starting Chuan Skincare has allowed me to put my mission to use, as I try to change the beauty and wellness industry from the ground up. I’ve been able to bring my personal values, like transparency, sustainability, inclusion, and social justice, into how I create my products and how I’m building my brand. My business really is an extension of who I am and the skincare products I want to see in the world.

While launching my business, I also launched my marketing blog, The Cultivate Method.

In my own experience starting my business and talking to other entrepreneurs, I saw that a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses were struggling with their marketing and that most of the educational content that’s available is geared towards marketing professionals. The Cultivate Method is the modern marketing method for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

On my blog, I take my real-life experience, knowledge, and skills and turn them into resources to help other entrepreneurs work smarter and grow their businesses through marketing.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Less than a month after I left my corporate job and started my entrepreneurial journey, my dad was hospitalized in the ICU. He was in and out of hospitals and a skilled nursing facility, where he was receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy, for 8 months. Over the holidays, he contracted COVID-19 at the nursing facility and less than two weeks later, he passed away.

My parents got divorced a few years ago, and, as the eldest child, I was my dad’s primary caregiver throughout the last year. I was on call 24/7, had to make important decisions about his care, and needed to take care of different legal, financial, and healthcare-related affairs for him.

COVID-19 made this even more difficult, since most healthcare facilities had and still have visitor restrictions and are short-staffed. Navigating my dad’s health issues and finding time to take care of myself and work on my business were challenging.

I dropped everything and lost a lot of momentum when I took care of his final arrangements. Processing my own grief, while coming back to my business and blog, has presented its own challenges. It has fundamentally altered what and how much work I can physically and emotionally accomplish on my own.

I am trying to give myself grace as I face these challenges, and I have made progress and found ways to better manage my time and energy. For example, recognizing that the amount of work I can handle has changed, I have started to set more achievable expectations for what I can achieve in a day or a week.

What else is next for you? And is there anything else you want to share?

In the process of figuring out my mission, I identified a number of passions and hobbies that I enjoy but hadn’t made time for because of work. I’ve been more conscious about making time for these creative pursuits, like sewing and crafting.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ada. We’re honored to support you in this journey. To learn more about Ada and her work, follow Chuan Skincare and The Cultivate Method on Instagram.

Now we’d love to hear from you. What are you taking with you from Ada’s story?

Work Bigger Team

Author Work Bigger Team

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