How to Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career & Get Unstuck (with Former Pentagon Counterterrorism Professional & World-Famous Coach Ashley Stahl)

In this podcast (episode #283) and blog, I speak with Ashley Stahl, a counter-terrorism professional turned prominent career coach and blogger. 

As Ashley speaks about in her amazing book You Turn, we are constantly changing. Your first career or passion doesn’t have to be your last, just like your first crush is not likely your only love interest in life. When it comes to pursuing your passion, you don’t just need clarity—you need to be connected to yourself, so you can better understand what you are great at and what works for you. If you are not sure what career to choose or you are looking to make a change, make a list of actions, people, places and things that make you feel like YOU again, because when you feel likeYOU, then finding your passion or discovering your career path becomes a lot easier. 

It is also important to have a good relationship with failure. Don’t allow your mistakes to stop you from making your life or career a good one. Don’t let messing up prevent you from moving on. 

Through the whole process of trying to find a job after she graduated in the middle of a recession, Ashley learned how to be a great job hunter. She recognized that life is a numbers game, a sifting process… you sift through options in life, so why not in your career? You don’t just have to pick one thing and grow it. Your career and passions should grow with you, not keep you stuck. 

At the end of the day, finding what you love and what you are good at is a learning process. There is no “quick-fix” for discovering what you are passionate about. In many ways, your career is a vehicle for your self-actualization—an experiment that helps you discover what makes YOU feel alive, and this can change and grow as you change and grow. As Ashley notes in her book, do what you are, not just what you love, which can change. Your career and your degree are there to serve you. You are not here to serve them. 

Loving your job all the time is not the “be all” and “end all” of life. It is about connecting to your gifts—your core skill set, the way that you think and engage with the world. Are you growing this core set? Are you harnessing it? This will often determine if you should stay or leave your current job. How your job looks matters just as much as what your job is. Does it harness your unique skill set? How does your job work? How does the room change when you walk in? What kind of energy do you bring in? And what kind of career paths can harness this energy?

For more on pursuing your passions and the power of self-actualization, listen to my podcast with Ashley (episode #283), and check out her website, watch her TED talks and get her book You Turn. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).

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Podcast Highlights

1:27 How Ashley went from counter-terrorism to career coaching 

3:20 How 9/11 impacted Ashley’s career path

4:50 The myth of choosing one passion or career path 

9:00 Why life, and your career, is a numbers game

10:10 There is no single quick or easy way to discover your passion—it is a learning process

12:42 Why it can be scary to change your career

14:00 Why you should do what you are, not just what you love

25:00 The power of harnessing and growing your core skill set

30:00 Why the how and the what matters when it comes to pursuing a career 

38:00 The power of self-honesty

44:00 How Ashley manages her mental health

This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact 

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