E038 Leaving a Tenure Track. Danielle De La Mare, Self-compassion Professor: Self-management for PhDs
January 28th 2021
Dr Danielle De La Mare works as a career wellness coach in private practice. She helps faculty who feel stuck in their careers to loosen their grip on perfectionism, people-pleasing, self-pressure, and shame so that they may find the clarity and courage to pave creative and meaningful career paths both within and outside academia. Her own career wellness journey began when she reached burnout as a tenured professor. Since then, she has found powerful tools to heal herself and others in similar situations. Danielle is the creator of the weekly podcast, Self-Compassionate Professor, which features guests who have found creative ways to rebuild their careers after a struggle.
Self-Compassionate professor podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/self-compassionate-professor/id1500328836🔥
Danielle’s personal website: https://danielledelamare.com/
Danielle’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielledelamare/
Danielle’s Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/danielleSCProf/
The episode was recorded on January 9th 2021. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the opinions of their current or former employer(s).
Natalia Bielczyk 00:10 Hello, everyone. This is yet another episode of Career Talks by Welcome Solutions. In these meetings we talk with professionals representing various fields, professionals with academic background who are willing to tell us their secrets, and how they navigate in the job market. And they’re willing to share their life hacks with us.
Natalia Bielczyk 00:34 And today, I have a great pleasure to introduce Dr. Danielle De La Mare, who works as a career wellness coach in private practice helping faculty who feel stuck in their careers. Her own career wellness journey began when she reached burnout as a tenured professor. Danielle is the creator of the weekly podcast Self-Compassionate Professor, which features guests who have found creative ways to rebuild their careers after a personal struggle.
Natalia Bielczyk 01:06 Great to have you, Danielle, I’m so happy to have you and to hear about your career story from your own perspective.
Danielle De La Mare 01:17 Natalia, I feel exactly the same way. You’ve been on my podcast and we had an awesome conversation. And we’ve talked other than that, as well. And I’m very grateful to be able to talk to you again.
Natalia Bielczyk 01:37 Fantastic. Thank you so much again, for joining us. And could you first, perhaps talk a little bit about your story so far? How it all began, and maybe even back to your PhD times, how it all started? Because I know you as a person who helps PIs, but I’m sure it was a long journey up to this point. And could you tell us a little bit about your research career and this period of time when you were experiencing burnout? And how did you evolve to become the person you are today?
Danielle De La Mare 02:24 I’m just writing down some of the stuff you just said to me. How do I want to start? I guess I am somebody who helps PIs. Although I don’t think of myself as somebody who helps PIs. In social sciences and humanities, we don’t use the term PI as much as you all do in the sciences. Of course, we do when we go through IRB and all this stuff. But really, when I think about who I help, I help tenure track faculty who are feeling burned out.
Danielle De La Mare 03:06 Who are feeling like, you know, their inner critic is telling them, you know, ‘You’ve got to get on it. You’ve got to work harder. You’ve got to work more. You’ve got to prove yourself.’ And that’s, frankly, who I was.
Danielle De La Mare 03:24 And so once I realized, and I guess that’s the question you’re asking. Like, how did I get to the point where I could evolve past that; out of that career, out of that life that was so painful to me. I will start and say, I was always anxious. I was always nervous that I wasn’t going to get everything I needed done. You know, the teaching service and research expectations were always constantly on my mind.
Danielle De La Mare 04:09 I didn’t create space for myself. I didn’t create space for my family. I didn’t rest. I didn’t sleep well. I was just trying to go, go, go, go, go, go, go. And what I learned is that beneath all of that was this. This sense that I wasn’t good enough, and I needed to really always prove that I was just as good as everyone else. And I believed that if I hustled, I could cover up the fact that I was unworthy of being in academia.
Danielle De La Mare 04:53 And so, it’s very much an imposter syndrome thing. And since I switched into career wellness coaching, that’s what I see all the time among my clients. It’s just this sense that if they hustle, if they work hard enough, they can be good enough and they can earn their place in academia. And there’s a lot of thoughts that are running through your head when you’re going through something like that.
Danielle De La Mare 05:27 But those thoughts are never sort of conscious thoughts. You’re just kind of thinking how terrible you are. But you’re not really noticing that that’s what you’re thinking. And so, a lot of my work now, since going through this myself, is helping others to unpack their own thoughts, so that they can relax in their lives and enjoy their lives.
Danielle De La Mare 05:50 I mean, I think you said on my podcast, when we talked a couple of weeks ago, “Life is about enjoyment.’ And I couldn’t agree more, it is. And I spent so much of my life not enjoying anything. I reached burnout. And the thing that really got me to a place where I could finally rest was when I got a cancer diagnosis. And that’s when everything changed for me.
Danielle De La Mare 06:28 It was like, ‘Oh, oh, wait a minute. I think my family actually is super important to me.’ I think having like meaningful interactions with my colleagues, and my students and my friends, my family, that is important to me, and I haven’t been making space for it. It took a real hit before I actually turned into reality and realize what I actually wanted.
Natalia Bielczyk 06:57 Wow, I didn’t know that about you. I didn’t know about your disease. I mean, I don’t have words for this, because I think no one can really understand what cancer is before you get it., I have someone in my close family who got that diagnosis in the past few months, and I had the same feeling I had the feeling. I don’t know what to say to make it wise.
Natalia Bielczyk 07:29 Because no one can really feel for you as well as another person who has the same diagnosis. That’s my feeling. But of course, I’m very … It’s a sorry. But I mean, you look very energetic and healthy. Does this mean that you recovered from this disease?
Danielle De La Mare 07:54 Yes. Yes, I did. I am very, very, very lucky. Very grateful.
Natalia Bielczyk 08:00 That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. I mean, I don’t know if we should get into details. I mean, I don’t know much about this type of condition, honestly. I don’t know how much you would like to elaborate on this topic. But I’m so glad to see that you’re quite fine now.
Danielle De La Mare 08:28 Thank you. I guess the thing that I would say about it is, I was getting really into mindfulness before the cancer diagnosis. And I was getting into Mindful Self-Compassion before the diagnosis. And I was scheduled to go to a retreat, a Mindful Self-Compassion retreat with Chris Germer. Dr. Chris Germer and Dr. Kristin Neff are sort of the founders of Mindful Self-Compassion. And I was going to Toronto to go to that retreat. And I got diagnosed.
Danielle De La Mare 09:09 It’s kind of fuzzy now, but I think it was between three and seven days of going to that retreat. And so, I thought to myself, ‘Okay, I got a diagnosis right before I’m going to a self-compassion retreat. This has to be the medicine for me.’ And my husband was fighting it. He was like, ‘If you go on this retreat, you miss the doctor’s appointment’, because the doctor had an opening that Friday that I was going to be gone.
Danielle De La Mare 09:43 And he’s like, we don’t know what’s going on. We don’t know, you know, what the prognosis is; we know nothing. And there was just something in me that knew I needed to go to this retreat. It was six days of self-compassion. And so, I knew that I was going to learn how to care for myself during this really hard time. Six days is a long time to be at a retreat. But six days is not a long time to wait to go to the doctor.
Danielle De La Mare 10:21 And so, I went, and my husband was just so annoyed; but I went. And I spent six full days with myself; with other people at the retreat, of course. But it was so much about just caring for myself. I would write myself letters and I would hold myself. This is where I learned … Self-Compassion is where I learned to do this. When I feel like I need compassion, I hold my chest with my hands.
Danielle De La Mare 11:01 And when I feel like other people need compassion, I do the same thing. It’s just my way of holding myself. And that was something that I had never, ever done before. I didn’t know how to hold myself; I didn’t know how to care for myself. And here, I get this cancer diagnosis. And days later, I’m at a self-compassion retreat, learning how to care for myself. And to this day, my husband says, ‘I can’t believe what a rock star you were through that whole thing. I can’t believe you went through those surgeries. And that fear and that uncertainty in this really strong way.’
Danielle De La Mare 11:15 And it’s true, I did. I was just able to turn into the reality that this was life, and this was hard and that was okay. And being able to hold yourself is the most important part of wellness. It is the most important part of career wellness. And it’s something I never knew how to do until all of this.
Natalia Bielczyk 12:10 I think this is something we often forget that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself first, before you take care of others. And I have to say I was doing exactly the same. I was making the same mistake for so many years. And I totally feel for you, I think this is a very common problem. And currently, I’m preparing a battery of aptitude tests that will help professionals better orient themselves in the job market.
Natalia Bielczyk 12:43 And one of the test questions that I created was related to how your self-perception compares with the perception of you that your working environment has. And basically, the question is, ‘How do you compare between the two?’ And the options are, ‘My working environment has a fairly good recognition of my talents and skills.’ Versus, ‘My working environment, things went way too well, for me, as a professional,’ versus, ‘My work environment doesn’t appreciate me enough.’
Natalia Bielczyk 12:44 The study is still going on, so I’m still collecting the data. But I can already tell that participants who have academic background tends to go for the option that, ‘I’m not as skilled as my working environment, thinks I am’. I can already see, before even the study ends … I can already see that it’s clear that in academia, this imposter syndrome is much more prevalent than in other working environments.
Natalia Bielczyk 14:02 I’m wondering, what do you think is the main reason? Is it because academia is so individualistic and we are all responsible for our projects? Perhaps, it’s because we have to manage in an environment where we don’t have influence on many external factors. There are many external factors that influence the results of our work that we cannot control. Yet we are fully responsible for the results. Maybe that’s the reason. What are your thoughts about, where is this imposter complex coming from?
Danielle De La Mare 14:41 I think it comes from a lot of places. One is, I think a lot of people are attracted to academia, because they want to prove their worth. And you know, if you get a PhD well then, you’re worthy, I think there’s that. And so, there’s that and it’s family environments, and it’s societal expectations and its academic culture.
Danielle De La Mare 15:13 But one of the things that comes up all the time when I talk to tenure track faculty is nobody ever said to them, their advisors, their mentors never said, ‘You know what, take a break. Let yourself kind of feel through this problem, this research question, this, whatever.’ And then start writing when you have a better sort of grounding. Nobody ever says that. They say, ‘Just do the work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll get through it, just do the work.’
Danielle De La Mare 15:58 And so, it’s this sense that if you push through, and I hear this all the time from people. If you push through, you’re going to get the PhD. If you just push through a little more, you’re going to get the tenure track job. And if you just push through a little more, you’re going to get tenure. And you just got to push through a little more and then your full professor and then you know, everything’s great.
Danielle De La Mare 16:20 By then your life is over. It’s not over but geez, like, you’ve spent so many years just pushing through and self-disciplining. And being anxious and frustrated and nervous, and all the stuff at like, ‘Why?’, like, what are you what are you doing? And so, I think we have a terrible culture in academia, that just pushes us to work harder. And many of us show up to academia already sort of in that mindset, and so it just makes it worse. I guess that’s what I’ve seen mostly,
Natalia Bielczyk 17:06 I fully agree, I think academia pushes you to think about the future all the time. Because also, your contracts are short, you always have to think a few steps in advance and plan ahead. Plan and take all the possible scenarios into account. In a very have that comfort zone and comfort to just focus on yourself, right here right now.
Natalia Bielczyk 17:31 Or at least it’s very hard to get to this state of mind. Because your environment tries to pull you out of this state of comfort and make you worry, and makes you compete. And it’s so hard to really stay safe and sound, and develop that internal feeling of peacefulness. It’s very hard to break out of this pattern. But you managed and that’s amazing.
Natalia Bielczyk 17:31 I would like to ask you something a little bit different now, which is more about the job market for PIs. And also, the reasons why PIs is not a term that you still use but you focus on tenure track professionals. The question would be, what are the main reasons for senior people in academia to leave?
Natalia Bielczyk 17:56 Because I mostly work with fresh PhD graduates and postdocs who are thinking of finding the first job in industry. And for these young, early career academics, the most common reasons to leave are isolation, low pay, dysfunctional walks, short contracts. And the point is once you get your tenure track position and you get to tenure eventually, all these factors disappear from the picture.
Natalia Bielczyk 19:13 Now you have the contracts; the safety. Now you have a freedom to choose your own projects. And you’re not isolated anymore in that sense, because now you create projects and you work with students, you work with other faculty members. All these reasons that are the main reasons for early career researchers to leave kind of disappear at that point. My question be, since you work with so many senior researchers, what are your observations? What are the most common factors that play a role by making career moves outside academia at this stage?
Danielle De La Mare 20:08 What I see a lot of is … These are people who have silenced themselves over and over and over again. Their body’s telling them, … I’m thinking about when I was writing my dissertation. My body was pulling me. I remember feeling this pull at my chest, like get out of your chair and stop writing. And I just silenced that, No, no, no, no, I got to keep writing, I got to keep working.’ And I did that over and over and over and over and over again, all the time.
Danielle De La Mare 20:42 And the workplaces are doing that; they’re silencing their bodies. Their bodies are telling them; you need a break or you need some creative outlet, you need something. Their bodies and spirits and minds are telling them, you need something else. And they’ve gotten so good at just staying on track and doing the right thing, ‘And nope. Got to shut that down, got to shut that down, got to shut that down’.
Danielle De La Mare 21:15 And what they’ve seen is a lot of success. I mean, they’re, you know, getting tenure, they’re getting the grants, they’re getting all the stuff. And so, they look around, and they’re like, ‘I’m successful. And I’m successful, because I’ve done a good job at denying myself all along, like I’m really good at disciplining myself’.
Danielle De La Mare 21:38 And so the hardest thing for faculty, when they are in this place and they’ve been really successful doing it, is to tell them, ‘You know, what? You need to make space for yourself.’ And they get that intellectually. But to practice that is really, really hard. Because this is how we do it. Like in in Mindful Self-Compassion, we talked about this continuum.
Danielle De La Mare 22:08 On the one side is self-discipline, where you are, you know, like I said, denying yourself constantly, ‘Nope, got to do this, got to do that, got to do the other’. Cannot make space for myself. And then you get to the point where you’re just so worn out, because you’ve just been working so hard, that you go to the other end of the continuum, which is indulgence. And that’s when you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t do anything,’ and you’re on your back on the sofa, watching Netflix for five days, because you literally can’t do anything.
Danielle De La Mare 22:41 Because you have worked so hard, and you have been self-disciplining so much. And so, wellness, the thing that I try to get my clients to see is that there’s this middle ground. There’s the self-compassionate ground, where you discipline yourself, just enough to where you get somewhere.
Danielle De La Mare 23:06 And you take a break just enough, so you’d be like a whole person. It’s in the middle. It’s between self-discipline and indulgence. And that is one of the hardest things for PIs. It’s one of the hardest things for tenure track faculty, because they’re just not used to it. What I see is that they’re desperate to get out of academia; ‘Academia has caused me so many problems, I need to get out. I just need to push it away from me.’
Danielle De La Mare 23:39 But that desperation is you just trying to get away from yourself. And so, that’s why my focus is on wellness. My focus is on, let’s try to be self-compassionate. Let’s try to ground, let’s try to be mindful, let’s try to create space for ourselves. Because if you take all those bad habits you learned in academia to another career, you’re going to be living the same life you were in academia.
Danielle De La Mare 24:08 And so, I’m trying to use wellness as an entry point to decide whether or not you leave academia. And if you do decide, you know what you need to do to make decisions from a place of wellness, not a place of desperation, ‘I got to get out’, or a place of fear. I talked to one faculty member a couple weeks ago who said, you know, her body is breaking down. It’s literally breaking down. And she’s watching it and she’s so burned out. But she doesn’t know how to stop.
Danielle De La Mare 24:52 She’s like, ‘I can’t stop’. I have all these service obligations. I have all these students. I have all this work; I’m just trying to get done. Like, I have to put in 14 hours a day and that’s just how it is. And she’s like, ‘And I know how bad that is for my body. And I don’t want it to happen to me, but I don’t know another way. I don’t know how to get out of this.’
Danielle De La Mare 25:14 And so, her thought is, ‘I just got to get another career, I just got to get out of this job’. But the truth is, she’s going to take all that work addiction to another career and to another job. And she’s going to be, … After a little honeymoon period, she’s going to be back to where she was. I don’t know. Did I answer your question?
Natalia Bielczyk 25:40 Partially.
Danielle De La Mare 25:41 Okay.
Natalia Bielczyk 25:44 It’s very interesting what you’ve just said. From what I understood, you are also healing careers. Instead of helping people move out of academia, you help them to repair their life, their professional life. And get themselves to the point where they are emotionally stable, and have that space for themselves and can enjoy the professional life better than before. That’s what I understood, right?
Danielle De La Mare 26:21 100%. It’s a slower process for me. ‘Okay, let’s look at the careers that are out there. And let’s figure out what your values are blah, blah blah’. Like, tenure track faculty that have been so good at silencing themselves. They don’t know how to make those decisions, as well as early career academics do. They just have been socialized to a point where they have to find wellness before they can start making those decisions.
Natalia Bielczyk 26:50 It’s a very interesting topic overall. Because it’s still a bit of a taboo that tenured researchers also have doubts, and also wonder about their future in academia. I mean, as early career researchers, we’re all often given this picture that this is Olympics, you know. This is the endpoint. Once you’ve gotten tenured, that this is the dream. And then you live your dream, this is the end of the road. And now you’re supposed to be a role model happy leader, a mentor, and you’re supposed to be an example for others.
Natalia Bielczyk 27:31 And one thing that you’re not supposed to do is to wonder about your academic future. I know, personally, so many tenured researchers who have doubts, and even those who left. And I know that it’s not many tenured researchers have those thoughts. But this is not something you can openly admit in your working place. And this is a bit of a taboo. It’s a double burden. And on the one hand, you feel as if you are rotting inside, you know. Something is inside of you, that blocks you and you feel really uncomfortable.
Natalia Bielczyk 28:12 But on the other hand, you can’t really expose that and it’s a double burden. And I kind of understand the situation. Because when you have your own company, it’s a bit similar. You know, you can’t express to the outer world if you have bad times with a company. These success stories of entrepreneurs, they always sound good in retrospect; when they are told in past tense, then they are inspiring. But you can’t tell them in the present tense.
Natalia Bielczyk 28:50 I can totally understand the situation. And I feel that, for many people out there who have senior positions in industry, I think what you’re doing would be very helpful as well. I think what you represent and the approach you represent is transferable beyond academia. I wanted to ask you that, if you have any plans to also work with professionals outside academia.
Danielle De La Mare 29:21 I do. I do. I mean, not that I have plans, but they come to me sometimes. Every once in a while, I get somebody, like a hospital administrator or somebody like that, who will just be like, ‘I need this. I’ve listened to your podcast and I know I’m not an academic.’ Nurses sometimes. Sometimes just these sort of software engineers. I’m getting people who are not always academics, who are seeking my help; who are seeking just wellness. And I do the same thing with them. And I guess the difference is, I see that academics take longer to develop the wellness habits than others.
Natalia Bielczyk 30:22 That’s great. I’m very curious how it will pan out for you, and what are your next steps. I think there is a great demand for these types of services. And especially now in 2021, we are on the edge of economic crisis, that’s not a secret. Probably soon, in a few months, American Stock Exchange will probably crash after 10 years of a bull run. The crisis is coming and at the moment, the job market is very unstable.
Natalia Bielczyk 31:03 Both employees and employers feel the crisis is coming up. And I think this is the place in which we all have to take care of ourselves. It’s times of turmoil, times of insecurity for everyone. Especially now, there’s a great demand for these types of activities. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you do in Self-Compassionate Professor?
Natalia Bielczyk 31:33 What type of coaching do you offer? And also, of course, about your podcast, I would like to hear more? Myself, I had great pleasure to be a guest on your podcast, that was a great experience for me. But maybe you could also tell us a little bit more about the genesis of your podcast, and maybe about your plans for the future, and also, of course, about your coaching business?
Danielle De La Mare 32:03 I’m just writing these things down, because I’m somebody who will forget if I don’t. In terms of the podcast, I found podcasts to be really helpful for me when I was in career crisis. When I was a faculty member who didn’t have many people to talk to. And what I find is that faculty members who feel like they want to leave academia tend to have like a tiny circle/ Maybe one or two, maybe three people in their network of colleagues who they can talk to about this.
Danielle De La Mare 32:47 And that’s kind of where I was, I had two people that I could talk to; and I didn’t see them often. Because as we know, that’s not how academia works. You are kind of in your silo doing your own thing. And so, I would talk to them. But it was Podcast, where I was able to listen to stories about people who were hitting rock bottom, and sort of growing after hitting rock bottom, that helped me to really feel that there was hope.
Danielle De La Mare 33:24 And so, that’s why I started the podcast. I knew that when I was in that time, in that crisis in my life, and listening to those podcasts as podcasts were kind of saving my life. They were preserving my hope. And so, I knew at that time, I wanted to create a podcast that was similar for academics. And that was back in 2015-2016, and it’s just been on my mind for all this time. And I finally, a year ago, started the podcast called Self-Compassionate Professor. Self-Compassionate Professor came, the name itself came, while I had my second surgery after the cancer diagnosis.
Danielle De La Mare 34:15 And I was trying to practice self-compassion. I was sitting on the floor of my home, in my daughter’s playroom, and I was feeling just sort of the weight and the pain of everything I had just gone through. And I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I were to help other faculty, I think I might want to call it Self-Compassionate Professor’, it just popped in my head. That’s the name of my company. I mean, I’m a solopreneur; my company is just me.
Danielle De La Mare 34:52 It’s the name of my company, but it’s also the name of my podcast. And the podcast is really meant to give people what I needed back then, and I talked to people who’ve left academia. And I talked to them about things they’ve done for their own wellness and their own clarity so that they can make good decisions to leave academia or not.
Danielle De La Mare 35:20 And when they do leave academia, if they do, help them to make good decisions along the way, and help them to develop self-trust and all that stuff. And it’s really about having a community of people who come together and recognize that they’re not in this alone; and really hearing people’s deep, dark, terrible stories. I mean, it’s hard and it sucks. And I’m all about that transparency, I’m all about talking about the really tough times.
Danielle De La Mare 35:55 Because you got to talk about the tough times. Like you said, it’s not just like, ‘I was here in this dark place, and then I was better’. We need to talk about how to navigate the tough times. And that’s what Self-Compassionate Professor is about. The podcast, it’s about how to navigate the dark times. In terms of my coaching, I genuinely think of it in sort of three layers. I think of it as, … You know, people who come to me … And I got to say, the people who come to me are people who are in these really burned-out places, and they really desperately need wellness.
Danielle De La Mare 36:35 If they’re just sort of looking for a career and to get out of academia and needing some help with industry and all this stuff. Like I would send them to you, Natalia. The people I’m working with are people who are dealing with that sort of pain. And so, my very first step is about clearing space for yourself. And that means identifying your painful thoughts, you know. What are you saying to yourself? Are you saying things like, ‘I’ll never be able to be anything more than an academic’. Like I don’t know what else I could possibly do?
Danielle De La Mare 37:17 Or are you saying to yourself, ‘There’s no way I have time to think about my career plans beyond my academic job. Because you know, I’m overworked and I have so much stuff on my plate as it is.’ And once we start to clear that those thoughts away, you can then start to, that’s the second piece that I do, you can then start to tap into your inner compass.
Danielle De La Mare 37:42 And that inner compass is really about noticing what’s going on with your body. Noticing what your mind and your body and your spirit need, and then making decisions based on those things. And then, those decisions that you’ve made you sort of put them out into the world in a sort of public fashion. And sometimes that just means getting a LinkedIn account and talking about yourself as this person sits under or who has navigated.
Danielle De La Mare 38:18 It’s about that person who knows their inner compass exists, who can see it. It’s about that person going out into the world and making decisions and connecting with people publicly, from the inner compass space. Not from the inner critic space. Not from, you know, the social expectation space. It’s from this space of the inner compass.
Danielle De La Mare 38:53 Knowing who you are, knowing your values, knowing what you love to do, that kind of thing. Those are sort of the stages; clearing space for yourself, finding yourself and then starting to make decisions out in the world based on having found yourself.
Natalia Bielczyk 39:12 Fantastic. Perhaps its-
Danielle De La Mare 39:14 And the future … I’m sorry, go ahead. And you asked me about the future too. I can answer that but go ahead.
Natalia Bielczyk 39:23 I was going to mention that it sounds like a material for a book No spoilers but …
Danielle De La Mare 39:31 Yes, thank you. I am working on a book and I have a first draft that needs a lot of work. It’s going to be some time, let’s put it that way. I wanted to start doing more group coaching, but I’m not there yet. I’m a one-to-one coach at this time.
Natalia Bielczyk 39:57 This is something no one told me about writing books, that editing process takes longer than writing itself.
Danielle De La Mare 40:05 Yeah, right.
Natalia Bielczyk 40:07 That’s something I learned the hard way. I had to be my own editor, that’s also why. But good luck. Good luck with this.
Danielle De La Mare 40:18 Thank you. Thank you. It’s hard because it’s the pandemic, and I’m managing kids at home all the time, and I’m trying to fit work in and all the stuff. It’ll be a while. But those are the future plans.
Natalia Bielczyk 40:35 That’s also a question I had for you. How do you manage at home with your family around and still writing books on the side? You know, with all your business going on, and the podcast and everything else you’re involved in. How do you manage to function in these circumstances?
Danielle De La Mare 41:00 Jonathan fields, who has the podcast, The Good Life Project, he talks about something called certainty anchors. And that has really stuck with me. And that’s something that I do, I have certainty anchors. I wake up; I set my alarm for 4:50am. And that is the time where I journal. It’s sort of dialogue with myself and say, ‘Danielle, what do you want out of today? And what are your goals? And what do you need to get done?’ And then I do a little bit of work at that time.
Danielle De La Mare 41:47 That’s all before my kids get up. The morning, that’s one certainty anchor. The other certainty anchor is in the afternoon. And in the afternoon, I usually have a very specific clear idea of what needs to happen in the day, so that I can get the work done, I need to get done. And then I have an evening check in. I mean, these are just things that helped me to stay grounded and not lost in the chaos of having a three-year-old and a seven-year-old home all the time.
Danielle De La Mare 42:23 Non-stop, like they are never anywhere else but here. It’s really hard, if I don’t have those certainty anchors. If I haven’t planned out my schedule with my husband to do that, I would probably lose my mind. But anyway, I would say certainty anchors are important for everyone. It’s a chance to connect to yourself, it’s a chance to ask yourself, ‘Are you going in the direction you want to go in? Are you making decisions based on your values? Are you doing the things that you want to do in your life?’ If you’re checking in with yourself multiple times a day, you’re going to ensure that you’re going in a direction that feels right to you.
Natalia Bielczyk 43:04 Fantastic. Thank you so much for this advice. And one more question I would like to ask would be; Is there any advice that you might give right now, to all the early career researchers out there, who also feel that they would like to improve on their quality of life in daily life as academics? And is there any quick fix that they could implement today to increase the quality of life as an academic?
Danielle De La Mare 43:47 I would say that journaling is a great way to improve what you’re doing. Because often, you have in your head, ‘This is what I got to get done. This is how I have to work through the problem.’ And then, you talk to somebody who changes your direction, and then you read something it changes your direction again. And then this happens, and that changes your direction again. If you can find a way to just, like I said, check in with yourself regularly. You’re in a much better place.
Danielle De La Mare 44:21 Meditation has been sort of life changing for me. One thing that I love are self-compassion breaks. And this is something that Kristin Neff and Chris Germer talk about in Mindful Self-Compassion. And that is just where you show yourself compassion and you show yourself compassion in two ways; through physical gesture and through language, loving compassionate language.
Danielle De La Mare 44:50 And so, if you’re in a place where you feel like you’re spinning out of control, and you feel anxious and you’re trying to get all the stuff done, you can take a second. Tell yourself, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so hard. This is not easy’. You place your hands over your heart. You feel the support coming from your hands, you support yourself, you hold yourself and then you tell yourself, whatever loving compassionate thing you need to hear right then.
Danielle De La Mare 45:19 Usually, once you do that, you feel that sense that you can kind of melt into the moment a little more. And when you can melt into the moment more, you’re better positioned to make better decisions. You’re not just reacting in this sort of stressed-out anxious way. That’s what I would offer.
Natalia Bielczyk 45:41 Fantastic, fantastic. One more, I have one more question. How to be forever young. Because from what I know, you’re like, 40 Plus, but you look like 20. How do you manage to get that?
Danielle De La Mare 45:58 I think it’s the light that I have in front of my computer.
Natalia Bielczyk 46:05 Well, that’s a good answer. I don’t believe it though. I think you really look very young. I’ve seen –
Danielle De La Mare 46:12 Oh, wow. Thank you.
Natalia Bielczyk 46:15 But that’s not the answer. I want to know. You have to come up with something.
Danielle De La Mare 46:23 That’s so funny. It’s funny you say that. Because I look in the mirror. And I’m like, ‘Woah, we got a lot of wrinkles going on these days’. Yeah, I’m 43, which kills me. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to that point. But I don’t know. I am an optimist and always have been. Even when I was a stress case, and burned out, I still always held a little bit of hope. Maybe that has something to do with it.
Danielle De La Mare 46:53 And I know how hopeful I am because I can compare myself to my very pessimistic husband, and I’m always looking at the bright side of everything. I don’t know, maybe it’s that.
Natalia Bielczyk 47:07 Let’s say that, I accept this answer. But maybe this is material for another book. You know, if you get to 50 looking the same way, I think you should definitely write a book about this.
Danielle De La Mare 47:21 Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much for saying this. I’m going to have to think about this more. I think it’s so interesting you’re telling me this, because I feel like I look very older right now. Thank you.
Natalia Bielczyk 47:36 Not at all. Perfect. Thank you so much for all this advice and for sharing your insights on how to be self-compassionate. I think, you know, on the one hand in academia, now there is this movement, you know, in the direction of self-care. And we open up on Twitter, in the public space about the fact that we all have issues and that self-care is extremely important for success in academia; if not, the crucial thing.
Natalia Bielczyk 48:18 But I think, you know, there is still a mismatch between what is being said, and what is being done. It’s easy to say, I care about myself. But to find the time and find space in your life to really do that, and have courage to sacrifice the working time to invest this time in self-care is quite another story.
Danielle De La Mare 48:43 100% and I would say that about career too. You can get clear about what you want and where you want to go and what steps. But if you’re going to do that, you have to be able to connect with yourself regularly, so that you can move in that direction. Because you can be like, ‘That’s what I want to do’. And then never do it because you’re not well enough to do it.
Natalia Bielczyk 49:06 It’s one of these things that Eisenhower described as important but not urgent. You have to schedule them; you have to find the time because otherwise they will always lose competition with urgent tasks. It’s a bit like with brushing your teeth and exercise you have to actively place them in your schedule. Otherwise, you will always postpone it.
Natalia Bielczyk 49:32 I agree it’s the same with career development and many people forget about it. But you know, it’s a bit like with compound interest. Once you invest a little bit of time every day, then with time, you’ll become so much stronger as a professional in the job market. You know, again, it’s compound interest. It’s the same as with investing your money or networking. It’s something that you will profit from if you do it on a regular basis over a long period.
Danielle De La Mare 50:04 Can I just say one thing though? I want people … Even though we’re saying this and there is truth in this. Absolutely, you need to invest in yourself and absolutely, you need to have these certainty anchors and all this stuff. Do not put pressure on yourself. Because my concern is that you already have this history of pressure; you have questioned yourself to do everything.
Danielle De La Mare 50:32 And now you’re going to pressure yourself to take care of yourself. And now you’re going to pressure yourself to be well enough, so that you can have these fantastic insights, so that you can do the career you want to do. Like, I think that is probably the most important piece. Let go of the self-pressure. Turn into the moment, if you need rest at the time that you’ve scheduled to do your career development, rest.
Danielle De La Mare 50:59 And then pick up on the Career Development when you feel rested. Self-pressure is the thing that will undermine everything for you. You will not get out of life what you want, you will not get out of your career what you want, if you’re constantly pressuring yourself to be something other than you want to be. I just want to say that. Thank you, Natalia. Thank you so much. This has been so much fun.
Natalia Bielczyk 51:38 Thank you so much, Danielle. It was great to have you and I hope to hear more about your projects in the future. Who knows? Maybe the next time we meet you have some coaching group or a course. I am looking forward in what direction your projects will develop later. And of course, I’m looking forward to reading your book.
Natalia Bielczyk 52:04 I hope as soon as it’s out, I want to be one of the first people who get it. Good luck with all your projects. And for you guys who successfully came to the end of this episode, thank you so much for watching. If you would like to get more of this type of content then please subscribe to the channel. And we are open to any comments or questions you might have.
Natalia Bielczyk 52:37 And we’ll of course, answer every question we get under this episode. Please drop your questions if you have any. And of course, if you have questions for Danielle please find her through Self-Compassionate Professor. You have a website for your business, right?
Danielle De La Mare 52:58 Yeah, it’s selfcompassionateprofessor.com
Natalia Bielczyk 53:00 Great. You can contact her on LinkedIn as well. Of course, reach out to Danielle if you have any more questions about self-care as a tenured researcher and not only as a early career researcher. And thank you so much, Danielle, for joining us. And have a nice day everyone.
Danielle De La Mare 53:29 Absolutely. My pleasure. Have a nice day everyone. Take care of yourself, Natalia.
Natalia Bielczyk 53:35 Thank you.
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Bielczyk, N. (2021, January 28th). E038 Leaving a Tenure Track. Danielle De La Mare, Self-compassion Professor: Self-management for PhDs? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/career-development-strategies-e38-leaving-a-tenure-track-danielle-de-la-mare-self-compassion-professor-self-management-for-phds/
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