Wellness at Work Through Relationships and Professional Alignment

The last few years have made us all rethink wellness in the workplace. 

The pandemic exposed how many of us were pushing ourselves to burnout and stress. When we were finally forced to pause, we unraveled. 

But now, coming out of it, we have an opportunity to prioritize rest and wellness in our workplaces and careers. 

As black women, we’re often not very good at this—we’re pulled in so many directions and keep pushing forward to achieve, succeed, and prove ourselves. 

But without prioritizing wellness, you cannot reach happiness and ease. 

And this is exactly what our conversation with Cheryl Burrell was about on episode 3 of Unlocking the Club Podcast. After a decades-long career at 3M and Johnson and Johnson, Cheryl finally took a step back and realized the weight and pressure she’d been carrying. She was able to look at her core hurt from childhood that told her she wasn’t good enough, attend to it, and move forward. 

Today, Cheryl is an entrepreneur, executive coach, leadership consultant, and speaker. And, through it all, is a commitment to personal and professional wellness, growth, and alignment. 

Brand and Career Alignment 

A professional black woman looking at a computer while someone else stands behind her

One of Cheryl’s key insights to infuse wellness into your work is alignment

Alignment is feeling like you are where you need to be. It’s particularly important to feel aligned in your work so that you can focus your efforts only on what is most important. If you are out of alignment, you may take on too much and forget to leave time for personal wellness. 

To be aligned with your work—and the future opportunities you want to achieve—you need to ensure you’re showing up in the way you want to show up. 

If you want a promotion, show them. 

Putting your head down and “working hard” is not the way to level up. It doesn’t present the image of someone who wants a promotion. 

You need to be visible and work in a way that’s aligned with where you want to go. At times, that means “playing the game.” You may need to network and connect with people that you normally wouldn’t.

But you can do it in a way that’s honest and authentic to who you are. 

For example, Cherly discussed the importance of getting people out of the office and into a more social setting to build important connections. While many people in her circle golfed, Cheryl never liked it. Instead, she’d connect with them over good food and drink—something she loves. So even as she “played the game,” it was on her terms. 

You can also ensure you stay aligned with your goals and values by bringing in your own board of directors for your life. These are important people whose opinion holds weight to you. 

Know who they are so you can bounce ideas and opportunities off them, keeping you aligned with your purpose and vision instead of getting caught up in something else. 

Building Your Career by Overcoming Hurt

two professional black women sitting on a couch talking to each other

Walking in alignment will help you lean into the right career opportunities. 

But it’s more than that—you also need to do the inner work that emboldens you to step out and achieve them. 

As a coach, Cheryl works with so many amazing women. They have the skills and abilities to do the job they’re eyeing, but something holds them back: self-esteem.

And it makes sense—so many of us, as black women, have been beaten down in life and told we’re not good enough, we don’t belong. 

We internalize those messages; Cheryl calls them our “core hurts.” It’s not until we unpack that core hurt, tend to it, soothe it, and move forward that we can build the self-esteem to go after what we both want and deserve. 

Cheryl’s seen time and time again—when black women go inward and unpack their core hurt, they have the confidence and self-esteem to navigate the workplace and achieve their professional goals. 

Your core hurt can keep you in the corner—just stay quiet and work, we’re told.

But once you realize that it’s a lie meant to keep us down, you can step up and thrive in your workplace. 

And, once you attend to your core hurt, you are in a better position to form the important relationships that help with career advancement. You can connect with people and find the similarities between you, not just the differences. 

Relationships, along with your technical expertise, are what move the needle forward with any career aspiration. 

So, do the work to look inward and see what’s holding you back. Then, move forward with confidence and in alignment with your goals and values. 

Prioritizing Wellness to Thrive

Two black women doing yoga

Though your work and roles may shift, the need to prioritize wellness does not. 

You’re a human, just like all of us. And you know what that means—you need help sometimes. You need rest sometimes. You need to take care of yourself… always. 

Cheryl’s advice to prioritize wellness is to put yourself on your calendar and make it a non-negotiable part of your day or week.

For her, it’s all about exercising. It’s something she can do to take care of her mind and body to stay healthy and whole. 

Because it is important to take care of both—your physical and mental health both need to be part of your wellness plan. Just as you take care of your body through movement and nourishment, you can take care of your mind through positive self-talk and affirmations. 

Prioritizing wellness is easier to do when you’re aligned with your work. As you gain clarity on what your purpose and passion are, you can more easily say “no.” You can create time to do things that are important to you, not just the pressures from everyone else. 

Cheryl offered us so much more wisdom during her full interview on the podcast—make sure you check it out! You can also keep up with Cheryl on Twitter and LinkedIn.