Challenging Our Mental Patterns

Anna O'Neill is the Partnership Manager at Break A Difference, and shares with us the value of breaking routine, doing something new, and reframing our mistakes. In this month dedicated to embracing experiences, Anna's words are important and inspiring. Read our Q+A below and be sure to check out her feature in this month's newsletter: To Bathe or Not To Bathe.


This month's theme is all about creating and embracing experiences. Tell us about how you model this in your work.


My work with Break A Difference is centered around creating memorable and impactful volunteer experiences. We want people to feel engaged, to try new things and learn about themselves and their co-volunteers.



At OutGrowth, we are committed to supporting the growth of others through building transformational experiences. What do you think we as individuals and communities can do to support others to grow beyond traditional limits?

I think that we in order to support others to grow, we need to give them a space to share without always offering a reply. We should listen to people's dreams and fears, and let those ideas sit in a space to be appreciated without needing to add a comment to them. This allows the person to think more deeply about what they've shared and decide for themselves what they will do next.



Tell us about your most significant professional moment to date.

I was made Partnership Manager at Break A Difference, an affirmation from my team that my work is seen and valued.



How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?

The promotion to manager of my department was a realization of a goal that I had worked towards for years. It made me feel empowered in my work and skill set and motivated to keep setting professional goals.



What is a step that each of us can take today to enrich our own lives and the lives of others through meaningful experiences?


I encourage everyone to break routine and try something new - maybe not every week, but frequently enough that our mental patterns are challenged. Doing something unfamiliar to us helps us be more aware of our experience and engage with the moment.



If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Things that seem like mistakes are just hard lessons. If you're lucky enough to wake up the next day, that experience will help you grow and learn and become a better person.



What is your favorite quote or song lyric?

How it whispered, oh, adhere to me for we are bound by symmetry. Whatever differences our lives have been, we together make a limb.



Based on your experience to date, what are the top three career competencies that you believe can be gained/developed as a result of embracing new experiences?

Adaptability, creative problem solving and tenacity



What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2021?

As a new mom and at my new role at work, I'm growing every day. Watching my daughter grow so quickly reminds me to slow down and embrace the experience of caring for her. I try to remind myself to take work one day at a time and treat each project as its own learning experience.




Anna O'Neill is the Partnership Manager at Break A Difference, and has a background is in community development and volunteer programs. She loves to swim, make her daughter laugh, and spend time with her family. Travel used to be her lifestyle, but she is currently rooted in Baltimore, Maryland.

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