Why I do what I do: My journey to find work in which I can thrive

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

 

How many careers have you had?

How many careers have you had (so far?!)?

I’ve done some research and discovered that we can expect to have between 7-10 different careers, and up to 15 different jobs in our lifetime.

I think that’s pretty amazing. If I had known that (and also how having many careers has only enriched my personal development and relatable work experience) when I felt under so much pressure to decide my future at 18 then I would have taken it all much more relaxed.

Let me think back at my different careers… swimming teacher for toddlers when I was in high school & uni, then started a primary school teaching degree (dropped out), worked in a bank, then in inbound tourism for Japanese. Now getting more serious with a communications / marketing career where I worked for over 15 years: hotel, logistics and engineering marketing and employee (internal) communication. My favourite parts of this career were in employee engagement and internal communications (I loved it so much that I did my Strategic Communication master at this time, focusing on the link between internal communication and employee engagement).

….Now I’ve found my perfect career – coaching.

In fact, I’m so sure that my coaching career will be long-term, that I’ve made the very very big decision to start my second master, this time in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology.

Until my last move to coaching, I kind of just went with the flow and took opportunities as they came up (and felt right at the time). Now through having my own coaching and doing psychometric tests to know myself and my strengths and talents better, I’ve actively sought out the right career for me.

That’s exactly why I’m offering the same to my clients – because it works!! And takes a lot of the risk out of changing career.

How many careers have you had so far? How did you know that you needed to change? How did you make the change? What support did you have? I’d love to hear your stories.

Applying your valuable skills, experience and knowledge to a new job or career

Applying your valuable skills, experience and knowledge to a new job or career

Which skills, knowledge and experience do you already have that can you apply to different jobs or careers?

If you’re considering a job move or career change, but are really doubting your abilities to move to another field, evaluating your transferable skills, knowledge & experience can help to boost your confidence and be a significant step towards your rewarding new career.

Many, many different skills and types of experience can be applicable across many different jobs or careers. Here’s an example from me: I worked in marketing and corporate communications for over 15 years, and studied both marketing and strategic communication. So I have a clear skill set, knowledge and experience in terms of communication and understanding of corporate strategy. What I do now as a career coach is totally different in terms of work environment, outcomes, skills and knowledge that I utilise. But, as I am a business owner, the knowledge, experience and skills that I’ve collected in my previous career support me in understanding how to market myself, what elements are needed for a business strategy, amongst others.

Your skills, knowledge and experience are so valuable! Whether you’ve spent over 15 years utilising, learning and improving your skills, or even just a couple of months, what you’ve gained has been a big investment in terms of time and energy. So, by understanding what they are, and what you can take with you to a new job or career, you ensure that your investments do not go to waste.

Here are some practical and easy steps you can take to get a clear picture of where you stand right now, and identify what you can, and would like to, take with you to future jobs or careers:

1. Conduct a skills, experience and knowledge audit

If you’re feeling a little stuck and are beating yourself up for not already being perfectly qualified to for your dream job or to start a new career, take a look through your CV and make a list of which skills you’ve gained and implemented in each position. Make other lists of experience and knowledge that you’ve acquired throughout your work life and education.

2. Reflect on what you enjoy and are good at

Once you’ve made your lists, it’s important to reflect on which skills, knowledge and experience that you enjoy. Who wants to move to a new career and not do what they like to do?! And what are you good at? How can you integrate your talents and strengths into a new career? The StrengthsFinder and VIA assessments are great tools to help you identify your strengths.

Make a wish list of what you’d really, really like to be doing in your new job or career. Highlight the ones that are your highest priority, and even update your CV to reflect this where you can.

This step can also be a big eye-opener if you’re currently not sure about what kind of work is right for you. You can used your highlighted list of preferred skills, knowledge and experience, to do some research into which kinds of careers or jobs you could utilise these on a daily basis.

3. Identify any gaps

This may come at a later stage when you are clear on which direction you’d like to go in, but working out which skills and experience that you don’t have (yet!) can help you to develop a training or work experience plan to get you the work you desire.

Useful resource

If you’re needing some support with your audit, the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, identifies careers that are suited to you, based on your interests and preferred skills. So it can really help you to efficiently pin down what you like. It also offers insights into what kinds of skills are required for different jobs, and can then help you to easily identify any gaps that you currently have.

Over to you….

  • Have you already done a skills, knowledge and experience audit?
  • Do you already know your preferred skills, knowledge and experience?
  • What are your talents at work?
  • Which of your skills, knowledge and experience have been most easily implemented across different jobs or careers that you’ve already had?
  • Which would you most like to implement more regularly?
  • Are there any obvious gaps that you know how to fill?
  • Do you need support to understand how to fill gaps?