When was the last time you took some time off from work? I often feel this pressure to keep plowing ahead in my career, to not take detours, and to not slow down. However, taking a momentary pause during a job transition is often the only real opportunity you have to slow down, recalibrate, and reconsider where you want to take your career next.

HR professional Gisela Prunes Garcia shares her thoughts on the complexities of living and working in different countries, putting yourself out there before you’re ready, and managing your internal thoughts during uncertain career transitions.

In episode 101 of the Career Relaunch® podcast, I also share some thoughts on the tension between professional achievement and periodic reflection during the Mental Fuel® segment.

💡Key Career Change Insights

  1. Returning to your home country after living elsewhere may not always fill you with the comfort you might expect from familiar surroundings and can instead leave you feeling confused about where you belong.
  2. Talking about your career when you’re working for an established, well-known company is much easier than discussing your transitions or messy periods in your professional trajectory.
  3. While uncomfortable, career transitions can be a very fertile ground to explore other interests and paths that you may have otherwise ignored or overlooked while being focused on climbing the corporate ladder.

🚀Listener Challenge

During this episode’s Mental Fuel® segment, I challenge you to periodically permit yourself to slow down, even if it’s just for a day, and allow yourself to have a bit of a metaphorical palate cleanser. During these momentary pauses, ask yourself:

  • What’s my level of satisfaction with where my career is headed right now?
  • What action can I take to better align my work with my natural strengths and interests?
  • Where would I like my life to be a year from now, both personally and professionally? 5 years from now?

🎧Episode Chapters

00:00:00 Overview
00:01:07 Introduction
00:03:47 Discussion with Gisela Prunes Garcia
00:42:33 Mental Fuel
00:49:38 Listener Challenge
00:50:09 Wrap Up

👤About Gisela Prunes Garcia

Gisela Prunes GarciaGisel Prunes Garcia is a Human Resources professional from Barcelona who lived in the United States for the past 12 years. Her career in corporate started in Barcelona at Sara Lee Corporation, a Fortune 500 company in consumer goods, where she worked for a few years until she decided to move to California in 2012. She went on to explore different industries while building up a new life and career in a new culture, in a second language with no network.

Her most recent experiences were with The Walt Disney Company in HR Production and Getty Images managing Creative and Editorial client groups. She specializes in finding opportunities that drive solutions to improve the employee experience and business results. Working in various industries and with highly creative folks allowed her to form unique perspectives and develop agility to analyze problems and find holistic and creative solutions.

Follow Gisela on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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🎵Interview Segment Music Credits

✍🏼Episode Interview Transcript

Joseph: Hello, Gisela. Thank you so much for joining me here on the Career Relaunch podcast. It is great to have you on the show.

Gisela: [03:53] Thank you for having me. I’m very excited.

Joseph: We got a lot to talk about between your time in Spain and moving to the U.S., then eventually moving back to Spain. I was hoping we could start by just getting a glimpse into what you’re focused on right now in your career and your life. Could you just give us a quick snapshot?

Gisela: [04:13] Right now, I think that I’m in one of the most convoluted times of my journey, one of those that are very gray and you are kind of lost in the mist and kind of stuck.

Joseph: That’s very common for people to be at, that’s why we’re talking. What’s been confusing about this particular time?

Gisela: [04:31] I’m going through a lot of change in a lot of areas of life. When more than one changes, it elevates the stress. And so, being able to manage that at this moment, it’s becoming a challenge and terrifying as well.

Joseph: Just to set the scene here, could you just tell us, where are you right now and what are you up to right now, both personally and professionally?

Gisela: [04:58] I’m in Spain, that’s where I’m from. I’m currently in Barcelona. I recently came here but I was in the U.S. for the past almost 13 years, but I’m originally from Spain so I just returned. I don’t know for how long, but I decided to come back here and spend more time with family recently, the last 2-3 months.

Joseph: Can you describe the work that you are at least thinking about doing moving forward? I know you’re in the transition right now and still figuring it out.

Gisela: [05:34] I’ve been working in corporate in my career. Since I was still living in college, I was already trying to figure out what I wanted to do when doing internships in companies. So since very, very early stage in my career, I’ve been in corporations, mostly big corporations. Right now, I’m taking a pause on everything career-wise to process this transition or the moment in life that I find myself in. I’m assessing and exploring too if I would like to become an entrepreneur and how would I do with that.

Joseph: Let’s kind of go back in time a little bit. You mentioned you’re back in Spain now, and you had moved to the U.S. at the beginning of your career. I want to talk about what triggered you to move countries, but can we just start from the very beginning of your career? I know you’ve spent a lot of your career in the corporate world focused on HR. What got you interested in working in human resources at the very beginning?

Gisela: [06:30] I was very compelled by the human resources work. But because in education really, I found that this is a field that it’s not very explored no matter what you studied. I felt like I really wanted to get a sense of it working and experiencing myself, what it is to working in each of the other departments. So very young, I got an internship at the time was Sara Lee, and I was based in Barcelona. Since the moment that I got into that company, and previously I already tried different fields, but experienced at this company, I loved it. I loved the combination of skill sets, working in a business, but also everything that had to do with talent management. I really loved it. I thought, “This could be my career.”

Joseph: So from the start, you’re at Sara Lee, were you thinking that HR was the best fit for you? Were you pretty certain about that at the time? Did it feel right to you at the time?

Gisela: [07:25] Yes, it did. I like to add different things. I was also interested in education, but I felt very comfortable in a business setting and in a business environment. I think that’s what made me stay and continue learning about it. I was doing well. I decided to explore all the different facets and areas of human resources.

Joseph: Now, eventually, you made a pretty big decision to leave your home country, and eventually move to the U.S. I’d love to dive into this a little bit because I know it’s a major decision to relocate countries; as someone, myself, who’s done it. What triggered you to think about moving away from Spain and how did you choose the U.S. to be your destination?

Gisela: [08:12] I wanted to expand my career and make it be international in my experience and learn about other countries. I knew that if I wanted to have like a career that’s like international, I would have to learn English and that was my pending signature. I’ve never been good at learning languages. I thought after a few years at Sara Lee, I was still in my early 20s and I felt myself very settled in Spain and there was something that I was like, “I need to explore.” I always been like this dedicated person; studying, working, having two jobs while studying, and I was already doing well. But too settled for my tastes.

So I thought, “This is the moment. Let’s study English somewhere.” I just opened a map and literally decided, “Okay, where in the world I could go to learn English, that has a sunny location?” So that was my first indicator of like, it has to be like a sunny place. And then, I ended up going to San Diego.

Joseph: San Diego.

Gisela: [09:12] California.

Joseph: Yes. good choice. How was your transition to the U.S.? What did you do when you first got there and how did you settle in?

Gisela: [09:21] It was tough. At the beginning, I thought it was just going to be a vacation while I was in language school. So it’s a very different mindset than when you are actually settling to live in a new country. At the beginning, it was very fun. It was an amazing one of the best experiences that I ever had while I was in language school, 8 to 10 hours a day, really mastering. My English skills are trying because they were like pretty much non-existent.

But then, things change when you are already like, “Let’s live here. Let’s try to start a career here.” Still with basic level of English, that was probably the toughest experience of my career. Especially in human resources since you need to know a lot in the employment law, the legislation. I would not finish the phone interview screenings. I was not able to because I had a lot of difficulty understanding them. Little by little, when that improved, the recruiters would tell me, “You have good experience in Europe. But here in the U.S., we require pretty like medium to high level of knowledge with employment laws; especially in California.” So learning all of that in a second language was tough.

Joseph: You would eventually move into the corporate world, working in HR. You successfully secured your role. Out of curiosity, how did you overcome these barriers, the hesitation on the side of headhunters or recruiters or hiring managers when they were saying, “Okay. You got the qualifications, but you don’t have the localized experience that we’re looking for.” How did you overcome that?

Gisela: [11:04] I think I cried a lot. And then, I went to HR courses that helped me. I bought a lot of books and I did a lot of self-study to the point where my whole house was full of papers. The walls of my house were full of papers, even in my bedroom, all over the place, so I could memorize some of the laws or words that for me were difficult to understand. It was a lot of that through those classes.

And then, getting an internship, which at the time was unpaid. So for me, was a setback. Because in Spain, I was much better position. But it was very helpful to get that internship so I could practice, like a real experience. Then, studying aside.

Joseph: So a combination of internships, and also your self-study, and scaling up. You were interning at the World Trade Center in San Diego, and then you ended up moving into the recruitment sector for a little bit of time. You would eventually land at Walt Disney Imagineering. How did you land that role? Because that’s obviously a large, well-established company. Just be curious, how did you manage to get your foot in the door with Walt Disney?

Gisela: [12:20] Disney was always my first target. Since I was in the U.S., I started believing that could actually be possible for me to get a job there. I submitted close to 30 applications at Disney in the first years. Those applications never got a callback. But eventually, after I started building my experience and temping, which was a huge entrance for me in the U.S. market so I could switch from companies very quickly, learn fast, make an impact fast and every gig was better than the old one, and updating my LinkedIn.

And so, after all of that, I received a call from a head-hunter who found me on LinkedIn for a potential two-month opportunity. Thanks, God that I returned that call because they even say it was Disney. It was like an email that didn’t look very appealing. But I always had that sense of curiosity that I thought, “Let me go to find out what this is.” When they said it was Disney, I couldn’t believe it.

Joseph: And this was a temporary role initially.

Gisela: [13:22] Yes.

Joseph: What would you go on to do at Walt Disney Imagineering? I know you were there for just over a year, and then you’d eventually move on to the animation studios. Could you take us through your trajectory there at Walt Disney?

Gisela: [13:34] That first call, it was for a temporary position for a very, very specific project. It was to assist the human resources department that was leading the construction of the Disneyland Resort in Shanghai. They interviewed me for that project. After that project ended, then I applied for another role at Imagineering as well in recruiting. And then, I got that role. But all of this, it was still like temporary contracts. I was like a place at Disney by a third party during the time that I was at Imagineering.

Joseph: How did you then move from that temporary role into a more full-time role for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and then eventually the Walt Disney Studios?

Gisela: [14:15] During that time at Disney, I was like, “I’m loving these. I’m loving this place.” I was just sinking in all the magic. I couldn’t even believe that I was still there after 1 year or like 2 years when it was only going to be two months. So I encouraged myself to, “Okay. Maybe this is possible. Maybe now, I can get a full-time job and be hired at Disney.”

And so, at that time, I remember there were limited possibilities because there were not many positions open. But one of them was that I saw an opening at the Walt Disney Animation Studios. I just regularly applied through their portals, and I got an interview with Disney Animation Studios. I remember that I don’t think that I ever, in my life, prepared for anything better and more than I prepared for that interview with animation.

Joseph: What do you remember about that interview?

Gisela: [15:12] It was many interviews. It was so many interviews. Like one-on-one interviews, but there were also panel interviews with multiple people in the room. And so, those like more towards final stages made me like super nervous. I was like out of my mind with nervousness and anxiety.

Joseph: You would eventually become a recruitment and outreach coordinator there at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Then, you became an HR specialist at the Walt Disney Studios. I know this a while back, but what did you like about your life in the corporate world there in the U.S. at the time?

Gisela: [15:45] I was thriving in it. I loved all the challenges, and there are always challenges that come with working in corporate and a lot of complexities. But I found myself thriving on it, and I was always so hungry for learning. I always found something that would be fascinating for me, for my own development, and for my own learning. I was very comfortable with the environment, especially working in a creative setting. That was very inspiring for me since I do have a personality that is always also involved in like [unintelligible 16:20], and that was for myself. And so, I felt like I connected well also with that environment at that time.

Joseph: Were you thinking that you were going to just stay at Walt Disney? And definitely, did it cross your mind to explore other companies, other opportunities? Where were you at in terms of your professional interests at the time, staying versus exploring something else?

Gisela: [16:48] Especially the first years when I was at Disney, I was like, “Would I want to ever go somewhere else?” I could see how easily is to get comfortable. It was a very difficult and a struggle to not attach your personal value or identity. They, in such a big brand, in such a big name. And so, every time that I changed the position at Disney, it was a struggle. For example, leaving animation. It was like, “Am I crazy? I love this place. Why would I leave?”

But on the other side, you have that other voice of prioritizing growth at a certain moment in your career and especially in my field, which is very interesting to me, personally, seeing different environments and departments and teams. It was that decision of, “Okay. I’m going to jump,” even though I always thought, “Maybe I’ll regret jumping, but I’m still going to do it.” It was that constant struggle to check in with yourself and then just do it because there is always a different learning on the other side.

Joseph: I was giving a talk a few weeks ago, and somebody came up to me after my talk. It was on achieving your career goals. She works at Google and she’s been there for years, I think over a decade. She asked me, is there a problem to stay at a company for a really long time? Like, does that start to look strange from an external standpoint?

But I guess, what I was thinking when I heard that question was, sometimes, I myself, feel like if I’ve been doing something for too long, just the duration of time starts to make me wonder if I should do something else. I’ve always just wondered, is that like an unnecessary pressure that we put on ourselves to constantly be pushing forward to the next challenge? Do you have any thoughts? Again, I’m going back to your time as you started to wrap up your time at Walt Disney, and we’ll eventually talk about your most recent role in the moment.

Gisela: [18:47] Personal life circumstances also play a huge factor. Maybe the fact that I was a foreigner in a foreign country, without my family over there, maybe that will get me a little bit more impulse than maybe somebody who makes different decisions based on their lives in circumstances or is looking for more stability. They feel like it’s many different factors. But I agree that, sometimes, we just put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and it depends on the discipline as well. There are certain disciplines that once you secure a really good position in a certain industry where maybe those jobs are more limited, maybe it makes sense that the person tends to want to stay longer. But maybe for other disciplines, you could benefit from seeing different environments, that also is a point of decision-making for someone to be jumping around I think.

Joseph: How did you make your decision to eventually leave Disney and move on to Getty Images then?

Gisela: [19:46] To me, leaving Disney, I felt like Frodo dropping the ring in Mordor. It was very difficult to put down my batch of that company. But I really wanted to see a different idea within the entertainment and media industry. I was looking for a very specific type of role that was more strategic, and I was looking for different characteristics. And I thought after almost 8 years of my run in Disney, that was a good point to move forward.

And then, it took me a while. I interviewed a lot, many companies. Like, the companies were interviewing me, but I was interviewing more of those companies because I had a lot of clarity in what I wanted to find. So it took a while, but eventually, Getty came along with a very interesting role and had most of what I was looking for in my next role, and I accepted the job offer with them.

Joseph: Things are going pretty well for you in the United States. You move to San Diego. You land a couple of internships. You’re working at one of the most well-known companies in the world, Walt Disney. You eventually move on to Getty Images. You land the role that sounds like was the perfect fit for you regarding your next move. When did you start thinking about moving back to Spain?

Gisela: [21:14] The last few years since the pandemic. The pandemic became very hard to manage when you are so many miles from your family, and there was a change of paradigm and a change of a lot of things. I feel like since the pandemic, I had in the back of my mind the possibility of spending some time in Europe, even if it was not necessarily Spain. But because I left it so young and I have grown so much, I always had that thing of like, “Should I explore? Should I take some time to recognize Europe, and even discover places that I didn’t have the chance to when I was so young?”

Joseph: Was there a moment when you made your decision; “Okay. I’m going to leave Getty behind, going to leave Los Angeles behind,” which is where you were based at the time, “and I’m going to move back to Barcelona.” Do you remember the moment when you decided that?

Gisela: [22:07] Yes. I think it was last year, actually. Los Angeles; I always felt so compelled by the city, so I would have those thoughts of going back on my mind, but I would not act on it because I was doing well there, I had my job, I was happy with Getty Images. Actually, I will always remember it was award season in Los Angeles. It was between the months of February and March that I actually was with the team that I was supporting creative and editorial at the Oscars.

Later, a week after, I was all of a sudden in the hospital in one of those life moments where your health all of a sudden goes downhill, and then you need to reassess things, and then you need to start listening. The body puts you in a different direction all of a sudden. So that was like a breaking point for me to reassess, “Okay. What do I do now that I have a new life situation?”

Joseph: If you don’t mind me asking, Gisela, what was happening with your health at the time? What was the reason for having to go to the hospital?

Gisela: [23:12] I’ve been struggling for the 2-3 years with a lot of symptoms that nobody was able to pin down where those were coming from, even though they affected me a lot but I was able to manage. All of a sudden, during that time, I started experiencing stronger and stronger symptoms. Until one day to the other, I got super sick. And then, finally, they were able to diagnose that I was celiac. But I have been asymptomatic for a long, long time, which as far as I know is not as common. Usually, celiac shows some sort of symptoms even if they are not digestive. But in my case, my body showed absolutely nothing until I was like very severely Ill where my digestive system was not properly functioning. And then, you even get like this nutrition.

So it was something at that time, very severe for what it could look like on the surface, like a condition that’s not familiar, right? With that condition that is like, “Oh, you stop eating gluten,” and that’s it. But sometimes, if it’s caused more damage, it’s no longer simple. So I had to really put a pause on everything at that point.

Joseph: I don’t know a tremendous amount about celiac. I know some people in my life who’ve had it, and it involves gluten intolerance. But I also understand that if you don’t discover it until later in life it can actually wreak some havoc and damage on your system. I guess it’s good that you caught it. When you did, I guess as you’re lying there in the hospital, what was running through your head when you thought about your career looking forward in the United States versus perhaps exploring returning to Europe?

Gisela: [24:54] First of all, there was a phase of depression and anger. Like, I even told my doctor first before I could even think of anything else, it’s like, “You are wrong. I’m not celiac. Like, I’m from Spain and I’m made of red. What are you talking about?” I was at first upset with everything, right? Especially, in a moment where you are in your career and doing well, it’s like, “Oh, no.”

Joseph: And then, how did you come to terms with that? I guess I’m thinking about the stages of grieving. I guess the first couple are, first of all, denial, and then some anger that you’re talking about. How did you come to accept that maybe you did need to make a change?

Gisela: [25:31] It took me a few months. I’m sure many people would relate to this, but we tend to take everything on ourselves. Like, “I can do it. I’ve been doing it for like 12 years here and alone, and I’m alive, and I’ve gone through so many things, so this is just one more. This is not going to stop me or affect me in any way, right?” So I try to act normal and overcome it on my own like I always done. But this time, it was not working. This time, the more that I was trying to push, the body was slapping me back. I’m fine one day, and then I’m more sick the other.

That’s for months until I had a discussion with my supervisor. I was very transparent about what I was going through. I received great support as well. I finally assessed the situation and decided, “Okay. Maybe this is the time to take a pause, find the keys of what works for me until I recover, until I get better, and I find my new habits.” And then, I rather do it from Spain, spend more time with my family, to connect with Europe, and take this time as a creative exploration with myself.

Joseph: What’s it been like for you the past couple of months now that you have been back in Spain?

Gisela: [26:49] It’s been scary. I never experienced this before. It’s a constant terror that you are, all of a sudden, first of all, not attached to any big brands. So here it goes again. Now, I’m solo. My name is not attached to those brands anymore. Like, you don’t have a paycheck coming through. The list could go on and on of terrifying things that are happening right now. But I think that the worst is not having a clear direction of what you are going to hit next, which is kind of the first time that happened to me. Because I’m very analytical. I always have a plan A, B, and C.

And so, right now, I can have an idea of the things that I want to explore, but that is not that specific goal that I need to hit. And so, that creates a lot of anxiety and it’s just terrifying of being in a situation where you’re trying to figure out and explore and get to enjoy this time without the anxiety hitting you over.

Joseph: This is I guess, one of the reasons why I wanted to talk with you, Gisela. Because I think so often on these kinds of shows, we talk with people during the before and the after of their career change journey. And so, you get a glimpse of what they were doing before, and then you kind of get the glimpse into how everything is now worked out really nicely in the end. What I think is very interesting is catching people when they’re in the middle of it and they haven’t figured it out because that’s where a lot of listeners are when they listen to this show.

You’re right, you’re talking about some things that I know I’ve struggled with myself, where it’s the balance between just enjoying the downtime versus feeling pressured to uncover and identify exactly what you want to do next.

I guess I’d be really interested to hear, how about the readjustment going back to Spain and being back in your home country. As you know, I’m from the United States. I live in the UK now. I’ve always wondered what it would be like if I were to then move back to the U.S. after all this time of being away. Can you give a glimpse into what that adjustment has been like for you? And then, we’ll talk about some of your professional explorations in a moment.

Gisela: [28:49] I don’t know if I would be able to answer this question yet because it’s been so recently for me. While I’m trying to recover a bit of my health, I’ve been so swimming between madness of logistics and administrative things that I need to do and start a life over. It involves so much that I haven’t grasped it yet. It’s like I have not really landed. It’s the way I feel it. All of a sudden, I found myself putting things on my agenda, on my calendar, of things that I need to do one and functioning the same way that I used to. And so, I think that training my brain, it’s what I’m mostly focusing on as my only responsibility to be able to really make an impact for myself during this time.

But being here, it feels very strange. It feels like it’s a different person that came here and I don’t even have a sense of belonging like I used to, which, at first, you get sad about it, but at the same time, I think that it’s beautiful because you have grown. And now, you are more connected to different cultures and places. But I agree, it’s not often spoken and there is so much that goes into it.

Joseph: I know what you mean about feeling a bit out of place, even though it’s your home country.

Gisela: [30:07] Yeah.

Joseph: But when you’ve been away, you change a little bit and you see another way of living and another way of being. And then, going back, it can just feel a little bit surreal. I always have these weird out-of-body experiences when I go back to the United States. Where I feel like I’m this different person back in this environment that used to be very familiar to me. And now, it feels very foreign.

Gisela: [30:31] Yeah, it feels like that. But I’m also noticing something interesting. I realize I catch my brain always thinking, “Oh, I live here or I live there,” right? It’s like you have to pick sides. I’m here now, and this is what I need. But then, you start realizing it’s like, “No, I’m still from LA.” LA is also like a home. It’s just that my base right now, it’s here. But LA will be my second base. And so, we try to compartmentalize everything. And also, telling my brain and training my brain new things and new concepts of my new identity and my new lifestyle. I feel like this is helping me a little bit as well.

Joseph: The other thing you mentioned was this loss of an association with a big brand. I’ve been there myself, where you’re working for a well-established company, whether it’s Getty or Disney. How’s that been for you? I know you alluded to it earlier. But how do you reconcile now not being attached to those brands; and yet, it’s still a big part of your professional history?

Gisela: [31;31] Realistically, and full transparency, and honestly, it would have been way easier for me and more comfortable doing this interview. For example, when I was at Disney or at the Getty, with a name attached, and then you just talked about it. And getting out of the world and saying, “This is me. And yes, it’s my experience. But right now, I’m in this stage and my life is a mess.” I find this much more tricky.

Joseph: I’ve been there before myself. I feel very naked. Like I feel like I’ve got nothing to say about myself. Just because I’m not currently working for a well-known organization. I feel very exposed. It’s a strange feeling. I know you’re still figuring this out, but are you thinking that you want to work independently or that you want to return to the corporate world? Or is that still a question that you’re wrestling with right now?

Gisela: [32:20] I’m still trying to figure this out, and I’m allowing myself some space to do that. I enjoyed working in the corporate world mostly. I would definitely return once I recover and I think it’s the right time. But I want to take the chance and advantage of this situation where I have schedule restrictions because I’m prioritizing right now myself and exploring what would be like being an entrepreneur. If I could work solo and bring my expertise to the world in a different way, and see if this is something that I would like to do.

Luckily, here in Barcelona, and this just happened recently, I applied to one of those programs to help develop entrepreneurs. I submitted a project and it got selected. And so, right now, I’m going through this, starting this program for entrepreneurs to develop a project. I’m trying to see if this is something I would even like and explore that creative space for that purpose.

Joseph: There’s a lot of upside to having this transition where you’ve got some space and some head space to think about what exactly you want to do, which is a huge benefit of a transition. Before I talk about and finish up with some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way, I would be curious to hear if you could pinpoint or put your finger on, what’s the most difficult part of being in between jobs when you don’t exactly know what you want to do next?

Gisela: [33:53] Controlling your thoughts. Or at least, being aware of the thoughts that hit because they are driven by our fears. And gaining awareness of that and turning those thoughts around, for me, it’s the signature that honestly, I’m still failing. If I’m starting a podcast, for example, I want to talk about my podcast because I’m afraid for others to listen to me. Now, I’m adding this entrepreneurial program and you have to start doing a market analysis. I’m like, yes, but I’m terrified of going to speak to people because that seems like things are materializing and putting things to the world. It’s just there is a lot of mental load that we carry. That, to me, this is much more difficult than developing a business plan or developing anything else. It’s just switching the thoughts that we have because of our beliefs and because of society that has done a lot of damage to all of us.

Joseph: I have a lot of internal chatter, I would say. Compared to the average person. Like, I lay awake at night and I think about stuff or I think about, “Could I be doing things differently?” or “Should I have approached something differently?” “Should I take on this new project or not?” You’re right. I think a lot of it is just controlling those internal voices and quieting them a little bit because it can get really noisy up there.

The last thing I wanted to talk with you about — before we wrap up with what you are thinking about pursuing right now. I was speaking at an event last night. Someone came up to me afterwards and they were asking me about where I see well-being and health fitting into my professional priorities, which I thought was an interesting question. I was just wondering how do you think about that. Like, how do you think about where well-being and health and your own physical fitness? How does that fit into your overall priorities right now?

Gisela: [35:43] That’s something that’s so critical to keep in mind; one’s health. Unfortunately, we don’t always put that on our priority list. But, to me, this is number 1. So anything that I do needs to work around that first priority. Not the other way around of me trying to adjust to X or Y in able to achieve Z. It’s like, no, everything now needs to — at least, for a few months, needs to support my health physically and my mental health; like both, and it’s not easy. Sad to say that sometimes, this can even be a privilege in some way, depending on one’s personal circumstances. So I’m very appreciative of the possibility of being able to do this, even if it’s just a few months.

Joseph: Is there something that you wished you had discovered earlier on in your career that you have now discovered? Having gone through this transition and being in the middle of this transition.

Gisela: [36:43] I got to experience first-hand that anything is possible. And sometimes, even if we have a plan, if we are open and not very close-minded to a specific plan, sometimes, we can even have surprises and life can take us into something beyond even our expectations. To me, staying curious, always alert, we can spot opportunities that if we are not open or with that mindset, we could miss very easily. I’ve seen that over and over with myself; also, in my surroundings.

Joseph: Is there something in particular that you have learned about yourself as you have transitioned back home to Barcelona that you feel is important to share?

Gisela: [37:33] I traded a lot of comfort for learning. So I have a full back of learnings that I still feel like some of them, honestly, I have not even finished processing yet because I’ve been on the go and also in a survival mode for like a very long time to craft my career and my journey. Like, right now, it’s a good moment to integrate those learnings.

But I think that one of them is that, in my case, I experienced and I’ve seen that we are stronger than we believe we are, and that really goes a long way. Determination and persistence, all of these are clichés. But these are formulas that do work in most cases. And then, there is this conversation of, how much you need to push into something because, sometimes, it’s also a very good skill to have knowing until when we can push.

Joseph: Any advice you would give to your younger self, now that you’re back in Barcelona, figuring out the next stage of your career?

Gisela: [38:37] Putting more emphasis on my mental health in terms of managing anxiety. Learning about what anxiety is, and how it plays a role within each of us. As well as fear. Identify as early as I could, my fears. I wish I would have done that sooner.

In general, something that we always forget as well, is to understand our emotions and really work on all that. Part of that, at the end of the day, encompasses mental health.

Joseph: I want to wrap up with what you’re doing right now, Gisela. Could you just tell me a little bit more about “Creative Career Thinking,” which is the personal brand that you’re thinking about expanding, and perhaps writing about a little bit more? I know it’s still in its early days.

Gisela: [39:23] “Creative Career Thinking” is a brand that I started many years ago just to kind of try to separate the identity that we talked about our [voice 39:31] and work in corporate. And then, the engagements, or our [voice 39:37]like, or any activities that you do outside the corporate world. So I always enjoy giving talks and speaking in classes or conferences about career development. So, I’ve been doing sporadic activities for the last few years, and it’s still currently ongoing. Something that I have a lot of fun with. Currently, I’m finishing a book. That’s been a passion project for me about networking that speaks to the creative audience. So this has been something that I’ve been doing aside my jobs.

And now, that I have this time, I’m thinking if I should continue growing this brand. Although, I’m starting to think about a separate business plan. So like I said, my life is very messy. I don’t know what string to pull, but it’s like a part of different ingredients. I’m going to find out. Maybe in a few months, we’ll talk again and I’ll tell you which string did I pull.

Joseph: I think these things are all a bit of a work in progress. And until you test the waters with it, you never really know if it’s something that is going to be fruitful, if it’s something you’re going to enjoy, whether it’s something that’s going to really energize you. So I guess, yeah, all you can do is just try a whole bunch of different things and see what sticks sometimes.

Gisela: [40:55] And I’m also missing the corporate world already. But I’m trying to, again, tell my brain, “Are you missing it because it’s your habit?” Like, just really take the time and quiet that voice that always goes to our comfort.

Joseph: Well, thank you so much, Gisela, for telling us more about your former life as an HR professional in the corporate world, your international moves, and also your return to Barcelona. I wish you the very best of luck with “Creative Career Thinking,” and figuring out the next steps in your career. And also, of course, getting better and taking care of your health along the way. So thank you so much for sharing your thoughts today, and hope to cross paths with you again soon.

Gisela: [41:37] Thank you again. I hope so. It’s been a pleasure.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu is dedicated to helping people relaunch their careers and do more meaningful work. As a public speaker, career consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch® podcast, he shares insights from his decade of experience relaunching global consumer brands to help professionals to more effectively market their personal brands.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.