A few years ago, I was on the brink of a burnout.
… I was sick often and hadn’t been sleeping well for months.
… In the nights before work, it was not unusual for me to sleep for only 3-4 hours. I’d wake up and worry about everything.
… I was always depressed and anxious, often even the smallest worry would send me into a huge panic.
… I was unfocused and had lost all confidence in my abilities. This lack of confidence also impacted me outside work and I avoided social contact with friends.
(does any of this sound familiar?)
After failing to manage this on my own for months, I decided that I simply needed help and found a wonderful therapist. I had no idea how sick I was getting, but she assured me that we managed to catch my situation just before it descended into a full burnout, which would have taken months to recover from.
With therapy, I managed to pull myself out and develop strategies to prevent myself from getting to the brink of burnout again. And I never hesitate anymore to ask for help when I need it.
I also decided to share openly with my colleagues and friends what had happened. This was very hard! Mental health issues are still unfortunately seen as a weakness and I was already feeling so weak and a failure that I couldn’t manage the work I’d done for over 15 years!
Even though I’d never wish to go through this experience again, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons that have helped me both personally and professionally….
My 5 big lessons
- First, it does not need to get to the point of burnout in order to realise that something is wrong and needs to change. I know the warning signs and will take action when I need it. I will never hesitate to go back to therapy if needed, and I’m now always working with amazing coaches for different purposes and with their support can quite easily get unstuck and find new perspectives.
- The insights I’ve gained from coaching have helped me to see with absolute clarity that the work I was doing and the environment I was in were completely misaligned with my personality, strengths, values and interests. (In fact, my strengths were often criticised!). I was not living authentically! And now that I’ve reconnected with who I truly am, I make decisions so that I can live authentically every day.
- I learned through this process that living a life that is aligned with my values (one of which is authenticity) is not negotiable, it was critical for me to be open and honest about what I’d been going through. And I so absolutely didn’t want others to suffer like I did. If my story had just given one person awareness of the warning signs then it was absolutely worth me being vulnerable by sharing it. And I was so relieved and grateful to receive so much empathy and care (and hugs); but also very unnerved and very sad to hear about how many people had also suffered through something similar.
- Before I was able to find clarity with my therapist, it was very difficult to have a clearer perspective, more of a helicopter view, to see what was most important to me – my health and my family – not a job that made me fundamentally unhappy. I was so caught up in doing the ‘right’ thing, by being a good employee, pushing myself too hard, using the master degree that I had just completed and moving up the ladder in my long-standing career, that it completely clouded my view of what really matters.
- Another huge learning from my situation is that not all work situations and jobs are (always) suited for everyone (yes, even after 15 years in a career and recently completing a master degree in that field!)! Our passions, interests and life circumstances can change, and sometimes our work needs to change as a consequence. My husband shared an analogy with me at the time that a rabbit would thrive in a running race, but when in the water will never beat a fish! I was that rabbit in the water – I had no chance of thriving in my work environment.
So… I made the best (and only) decision possible. I left my well-paid career behind and retrained as a coach to help others who are also feeling unfulfilled and want more from their work.
So, this is my Why…
… My Why is to connect my clients back to who they truly are and support them to find jobs / careers and work environments that are aligned with their personality, strengths, values and interests… so that they can thrive at work.
I am a qualified & certified coach* and I use coaching and psychometric assessments to help my clients reconnect back with their authentic, true selves.
I now implement my natural strengths, personality, passion and interests every day in my work. I’m now the fish IN water! Exactly where I should be!
I’m committed to continuous learning to always be improving how I can support my clients. I’m working towards my MSc Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology (which I’m enjoying so much) to hone my coaching skills and help my clients integrate the latest evidence-based wellbeing practices to help them manage their feelings and stress.
Looking back on my experience, I can now see it with gratitude. I learned so so so much and have made many very positive changes as a result, including finding work that fundamentally helps others… which is totally aligned with my values, I absolutely love, and in which I can truly thrive.
How about you?
Have you experienced something similar?
Can you relate to the lessons I learned?
Is your work in alignment with your personal values?
What’s your Why?
*it is important to state that I’m not a therapist and I don’t work with serious mental health issues
Kelly is a certified coach with over 20 years of experience, holds the PCC credential from the International Coach Federation and has completed a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology with distinction. She offers bespoke positive psychology based coaching packages to help ambitious professionals to develop their authentic leadership identity, create more fulfilling careers and implement personalised strategies for optimal wellbeing at work.