Time to RESET:
Interview with Jen Sugermeyer
By Carin Chea
Author and life-coach Jen Sugermeyer recently eschewed her successful career in the corporate world to focus on living an authentic and centered life, an invaluable tool she now offers to audiences who are open and willing.
In an intimate discussion, Sugermeyer demonstrated wild vulnerability and staunch courage as she shared what it means to live a life that is genuine and self-honoring.
Her book, RESET: 5 steps to reclaim the life you lost and learn to love yourself, is set to be wildly popular and meaningful.
Prior to becoming a life coach and author, you worked in the corporate world. Tell us more about that.
I was working in corporate until recently when I made the switch full time. I had spent about 15 years in corporate America. I actually did very well: I worked in IT, which is predominantly a male space. I was a senior director and reported to the CIO.
It really looked like I had a life that was well put together. I had the house and the truck and I worked out and I was doing well in my job.
But, behind the scenes, it was falling apart. When I was able to finally get a handle on that, that's when I shifted into life coaching.
My story is unique in that it's my story, but the struggle is not unique because we all struggle. I think it's important in the corporate world to know that you're not alone.
For a long time, I felt alone. I felt that if I said something, that would compromise my career. Was it worth having that life though? I wanted a perfect-looking life, but at what cost? At the cost of suffering on the inside?
It was a scary and liberating thing to start stepping out and say what was going on in my life. I set my story that way because I think my background as corporate is very important. I believe 100% in what I'm doing. I sold my house. I did a lot of things in order to support this.
You refer to parts of your life as having a duality. Could you share more about that and what helped you transition from this "double life" to the path you're on now?
I learned to live a double life starting when I was 12. For my whole life, that's what I had known. I had an eating disorder starting at the age of 12. I'm 6'1" and I'm very proud and I wear heels. But, I was not always this accepting.
When I was 12 years old, towering over the boys, I felt I was chunky and no guy would want someone who was tall and chunky. I thought the eating disorder was an easy path. This was my life for my entire developmental stage: On the outside, I ate healthy, worked out, but behind the doors I was bulimic.
When I hit my 30s, I was an alcoholic, in and out of jails and hospitals. I mean, there were times when I was literally preparing for presentations in jail. I didn't want to share what was going on because that's not what you want people to see. It was a lifestyle that I always knew. But, it also limited me from getting close to people.
I am very blessed to have wonderful friends and family. My ability get genuinely close with people could only get so far because I didn't want them to see the dysfunction. Which meant, in my dating life, it was nothing short of a disaster. For a decade, I had tried to be sober, but I was treating the symptoms, not the disorder.
When I decided, "I think I'm ready to date," I thought the relationship and the guy would fix me. This one guy, about 4 months in, we sat down and had the talk. He said 7 words that changed my life: "Jen, you need to learn to love yourself."
He had seen me drink a few times, but I don't think he had any idea what was going on in my life.. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. But, he was close enough to know that I was hurting myself. At that time, I had even fooled myself in some capacity.
In that moment, I sat there for a long time and I saw this little child who was thinking: "You will always be alone. This life you've been trying to hide is really killing you." At the time I was suicidal and was so tired of the life I had created. It consumed everything about me. When he said those 7 words, I knew I was chasing the wrong things. I had been chasing external factors.
You have a book coming out. Tell us about RESET and what inspired you to write it.
One of the first steps in my program is addressing anger and negativity - the things inside of us that, as life piles on us, we just go there.
When we were growing up, our minds don't naturally go there [to anger and negativity], but as life happens, our minds go to anger. I want to help people obtain a certain approach to life; I want to help them re-frame their minds. It's a learned behavior, which means you can un-learn it as well.
For example, I didn't know I was tall until someone told me I was tall and they pointed it out.
RESET was symbolic of hitting the reset button on my life. That was the original intent. Because I worked in IT, I wanted it to be about rebooting your internal operating system. But, that was too nerdy.
It's not nerdy at all! I totally get it, and I think your general audience will, too!
[Laughing] Thank you.
But, anyway, back to your book. Please tell us more.
The book is called RESET, and it stands for: Recognize, Eliminate, Structure, Elevate, and Transform. There are about 4 chapters per step and they go through the steps I went through that worked in helping me get my life back on track.
The following are broad points, an overview, to each step.
Within Recognizing, you're saying, "Enough is enough. I'm finally committed to change." All the excuses are out.
Eliminate is looking at the things that don't serve you in your life. It's not "get rid of everything in your life". It's about getting rid of the low-hanging fruit. What's toxic in in your life? What's something in your closet hat you can donate? This isn't about getting rid of things that are considered middle-ground.
For example, I wasn't exactly in-love with my job, but it was something I could deal with. I encourage people that, with anything you can deal with, you can leave it alone. This step is about decluttering your life: the people, places, thing, and ideologies that are toxic.
Structure is about boundaries. It's critical to put standards in your life. My happiness is a standard. When situations happen, I have to put up those boundaries. So, if we start a negative conversation, I'm not going to be your partner in crime. I'll maybe give you two minutes, but then we need to move on.
Elevate is about creating a purpose driven life, learning to live in today, learning to make gratitude your attitude. It's taking all that new positivity and seeing where it serves you best. We go through exercises in the book to help you re-frame your mind.
Transform is about how we keep it up and make it a lifestyle for ourselves. This step includes tips and tricks for how to take what you've learned and make it active in your life.
What is the main message you want to convey in RESET?
Learn to love yourself. That's the key that unlocked everything for me.
Are there any upcoming projects you'd like to tell us about?
The book going live this week was so amazing to see.
I have one-on-one coaching available, but I also have an online program that's going to be available. It's a 90-page workbook and a more intensive course. It has everything that's in the book but has a more detailed level of granularity. There will be videos that will go along as well.
Another thing I'm working on is the audible, which I will be narrating myself.
There are some amazing things that are coming up. I have trademarks in place and there are a lot of vision for what's to come. Its more than coaching and the book. I'm looking to penetrate some markets that have been somewhat untouched.
I also do plan on, in a year or so, doing a podcast. Right now, I do about 2 podcasts a week as a guest speaker. I had 2 this morning. I'd like to do my own at some point.
I always love to end on a quirky note. If they were to make a biopic about you, which actor would portray you?
Amy Schumer. I don't think we look alike, but I think she delivers the right message. In the book, I talk about dating yourself and how important it is to treat yourself the way you'd want to be treated. I feel Amy resonates with that. She's really quirky and I'm super quirky.
Like even right now: I'm getting ready to go win a contest because I'm going to win this. I'm going dressed as the world's largest leprechaun. That's who I am. I will have 5-inch heels and a top hat and my wings.
You are so cool.
To learn more about just how cool Jen is, please visit www.JenSugermeyer.com.
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