Kate had reached a point where she was really unhappy with her work, her social life, her living set-up. Everything just felt wrong and not suited to her. She needed a career change.
She felt that she had no control over her life and had somehow ended up in a situation that wasn’t making her happy.
She’s a really big-hearted person, who wants to help with terrible things going on in the world.
Kate had recently started working for an NGO and working with disadvantaged school kids on the side. She wasn’t sure about the NGO work. Part of the issue was the set-up, she really didn’t like the tiring commute, being in the office and at her desk all day, and sticking to formal 9-5 working hours.
Kate loved working with the kids, and wanted to do more, but there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for full-time decently paid work.
Dream life in Paris
She lived in someone else’s house in a nice part of London, but craved her own space and independence. She had dreamed of living in Paris for years, and spent her free time studying French and watching films.
Kate had some career change coaching sessions with me, and at the start she felt lost. She had a vague idea of what she wanted but it all seemed so out of reach and unlikely. She was overwhelmed by the task ahead. But she was intent on finding something that really sat with her values and her lifestyle.
She got specific
Over the weeks we narrowed down what she really wanted; what kind of work, working environment, hours, working space, pay, non work stuff, living situation. We weighed up what was feasible, and felt good, felt exciting. And we worked out a plan that would get her there. She thought out each step, different things she could try, with me prompting or questioning her.
She’d have to do some pretty tough things, like asking her boss for an honest conversation, applying for a job abroad, consider finding accommodation abroad and all the admin that comes with that…but she’d started to see that it was just a series of steps, which she was capable of completing.
Part-time in Paris
And a year on, she’s working for the NGO part-time, remotely, from her new home in Paris. She’s also working with French business students part-time, and loving it.
It’s amazing that what had once been such a faraway dream is now her reality.
‘This year will be different‘. How many times have you told yourself this? On New Year’s Day? Your birthday? On your work anniversary? On a random rainy Tuesday morning as you’re bleakly staring out the bus window on your way to work (the last place you want to be heading towards)?
This is the year where I work out what on earth it is I want to do. The year I finally get a job I’m great at and that I enjoy. This is the year I stop doing what everyone else thinks I should be doing, and I go for what I’ve secretly been yearning to do.
This week I read an email sent by someone I’ve admired for a long time now, called Monika. She’s the author of a book called This Year Will Be Different. It’s a book I read at a time when I was desperate for change.
She’d written an email to thank the people who’d helped her when she got started as a freelancer. A few key people had taken a chance on her, given her advice, or seen something in her. These people had changed the way she thought and they supported her way of working.
I wanted things to change
I got a bit misty-eyed reading it. Because her books have had a big, positive influence on me and inspired me so much. When I read This Year Will Be Different it was exactly what I needed at the time. I wanted things to change and I didn’t want a repeat of the previous year, and the years before that.
In This Year Will Be Different Monika interviewed women who were doing interesting work, living unconventional lifestyles. Freelancers, women with portfolio careers (doing a few different jobs), designers, travelling translators. They talked about personal branding, finances, working for themselves, their life philosophy.
You can’t be what you can’t see
That was far from my reality, working for a big corporation, shlepping into an office every day, doing work I didn’t care about. I’d vaguely dreamed of having this kind of lifestyle, feeling freedom, having a portfolio career, travelling, working for myself. Not going to an office.
Reading this book was a massive dose of inspiration. Hearing these women’s stories lifted me. I saw that you can choose to work and live in a way that really suits you. They had worked out what they enjoyed doing and were being paid to do it. They all had lifestyles that suited them. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Why can’t you?
There’s a saying – you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s important to find your own inspiration. Examples of people who are working and living in a way that excites you and inspires you and makes you feel happy.
I hope you find something that touches you in the same way, and inspires you to make the changes you want.
If you liked this post, I’ve written more about surrounding yourself with inspiration here: The One Habit.
If you’d like to find out about life coaching sessions with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Putting things off til later. We all do it. Either we don’t want to do it, or we just can’t face it right now. But some things really shouldn’t be put off, they’re too important and time is precious…
I saw a photo of myself from over a decade ago, taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was there visiting with my family. I’m stood high on the city walls, sun baking down, admiring the view. I remember walking along the wall, running my hand along the hot stone, deep in thought.
I remembered how on that trip I had promised myself that one day (soon) I’d live abroad again.
It took me a good 10 years to finally do it.
They regret they didn’t do it sooner.
It seems a lot of people’s biggest regret when it comes to career change, starting their own business, moving house or moving abroad, is that they didn’t do it sooner. They put it off.
The thing is, once you’ve done it, you look back and realise it’s not so difficult. It’s simply the difference between dreaming about doing it and making the decision and actually doing it.
Most things are doable – you just need to decide.
The regret comes from realising that even though there may be challenges and obstacles steep learning curves and things that go wrong, your goal is achievable. And it really wasn’t something you needed to put off for so long.
Once I’d moved from the UK to Spain and looked back at the process, I was quite surprised at how straightforward it had actually been. I’d built it into this really massive thing. Leaving my flat, friends, family, life. For years the dream of moving abroad had become a big deal (even though I’d done it before, successfully, twice).
In the end it came down to:
Speaking to my bosses about moving abroad, which was scary and took courage – but they were fine about it (we work remotely).
I had to sort out renting my flat which was a bit of a faff. But the hardest part was deciding to leave my flat, which I’d loved living in. The emotional stuff. Once I’d made the decision, the rest was just practical stuff.
Stopping all household services and direct debits was straightforward.
Packing up the stuff in my flat and taking it to store in my Mum and Dad’s garage was easy.
Booking a flight to Valencia was simple.
Finding a flat in Valencia took a bit of effort, but I did it.
There’s always a way.
It really was just a series of steps. The main thing was sorting out my mindset, and getting my head around the idea that moving abroad at that time was plausible.
I know not everyone’s situation is the same, not everyone will have their own flat to rent out, not everyone will have parents willing to store their stuff. Not everyone will have a job they can pick up in another country, working remotely.
But, with each person’s own personal situation, there’s always a way. Once you make the decision to do something, it’s a matter of working away at it, taking steps to get you there.
Same with career change.
I spent years agonising about changing career. It did take a lot of reflection and planning. But I really dragged it out. I was putting it off because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.
When it came down to it, it meant making the decision to leave my job and find something that suited me better. I had six months of doing a variety of jobs and freaking out about what to do. But eventually I found a new job I loved, and found the guts to start my own coaching business too.
And I now realise I could have done this all sooner.
Think about it.
The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if you do it now, in one year, or in 5 years. But what I’m saying is don’t wait too long out of fear. A bit of time to plan and prepare and set safety nets – yes. But procrastinating and putting it off for years, and not even taking that one small first step? No. You’re just putting off your own happiness.
Is there something that you’d really like to do, that you dream of doing, that if you fast forward 10 or 15 years you KNOW you’ll regret not going? What is it? Write it down. Put down as much detail around it as you can. Set a date by which time you want to have achieved this dream.
may seem enormous, time consuming, ridiculous. But think about how you’ll feel
once you do it or achieve it.
If you keep taking tiny steps towards this big goal, then so much can be achieved, however long it takes you.
“Dare to life the life you dream for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’d like to try life coaching with me, contact me at: email@example.com
I recently spoke to a friend of a friend, M, about her work. She finds her current job stressful and she can’t see herself carrying on all the way through to retirement. We got talking about what she’d always dreamed of doing – working in interiors and decoration. And seeing the way she lit up talking about it…I asked her if she’d ever consider trying to move into it. But as we talked it was obvious there were a few barriers stopping her from thinking it could ever be possible.
The barriers M put in her way are really common. I don’t have the time. Other people are already doing the work. I’d need a qualification. The courses I’ve seen are far away and too expensive.
What’s it worth?
M was interested in taking a course to learn more and had looked into a couple. But the fact that they were pricey and bit of a distance away was an obstacle. I asked if the prospect of learning more, of enjoying exploring the world of design, of meeting like minded people, could be worth it. M admitted she’d love to give it a try.
So is it worth saving up or cutting back to afford it? Is it a potentially worthy investment? Could she find a way of prioritising the time she’d need to travel there and back?
The qualification issue
Another of the most common barriers, M felt she would need a qualification in order to set up and be taken seriously. I asked her – if someone could teach you how to do something, or could do it for you (with amazing results), would you care if they had a qualification or not?
I know some careers do require rigorous training and it may be the case that a certain level of education is required to be an interior designer. But in so many careers knowledge and experience count for a lot. And there’s always the possibility of studying for a qualification alongside getting work experience or during the very early stages of starting a business. I started coaching while studying for my coaching qualification. This doesn’t have to be a barrier.
For example, say I want to decorate my house. Imagine I have a bit of a budget, but zero interest in actually doing the research and searching for items or considering aesthetics. I would totally want to pay for the services of someone with amazing taste, whose own house is beautifully decorated, and who can make the transformation easy for me.
And get this – M mentioned that a few friends had commented on her style, or hinted that they’d love her to makeover their houses. I got excited hearing this! Proof there’s a market for her and proof she doesn’t necessarily need a qualification to get started. She could get started working with friends, and see what happens with word-of-mouth.
In her free time M’s pinning decoration images on Pinterest and obsessively scanning Instagram. We agreed that dedicating even 30 minutes a week would be time well spent on exploring this potential new career. She can put that research to good use! And use the time to set up working for a friend for free, or calling to find out more about the course and enrolling, or working out what niche she’d focus on. Maybe seeing if she can interview or shadow someone local working as a interior designer. Step-by-step.
So often we put pressure on ourselves when it comes to trying something new, putting immediate barriers in place. What if I don’t enjoy it, what if I change my mind and am no longer interested? What if it’s not for me?
Well on the other hand, what if it’s amazing – and changes everything?
The worst could be that you start taking small steps into that world, and realise you don’t enjoy it. This will help you decide that its not the path for you. You’re still a step ahead. You’re getting closer to what you want. It’s not a step back. You’ve set the gears in motion for change. You’ve shaken things up and you’re showing yourself that you’re taking yourself seriously. You can build on this.
For instance M could offer her services for free and then use the results as a portfolio/case study. Go through the process with a friend/’client’ and learn from the experience. See if she actually enjoys it and if the client is pleased with the outcome (maybe following up with a questionnaire or asking for a testimonial). Was anything tricky? What could be improved? Did anything go well? Did she feel under qualified?
This could all be done on the side of carrying on with her full time employment. I’m not suggesting quitting and starting from scratch. M can slowly build up her experience, and be sure it’s a career path that appeals.
Finally, with I visited M’s home, I was struck by the fact that she’s probably got the most stylish house I’ve seen for a couple with young kids. Her young daughters’ bedroom had simple, lovely colours, kid appropriate but not garish. In one corner of the room there was a massive leafy plant in front of a big shuttered window, with light filtering through. There was excellent storage so there weren’t toys all over the place. Somehow this all changed the room from any old kids bedroom to ‘dream’ kids bedroom.
Their home was sleek, stylish and not overrun with kids stuff. It struck me – that could be her niche. How to have a beautiful home when you’ve got kids. How to achieve the stylish, zen-like look even if your day-to-day is as chaotic as everyone else’s.
Her dream is so big and exciting, and seems so far away that she can hardly contemplate it one day being a reality. But once M can get over her mindset blocks and start believing it could one day be possible, all she needs to do is start taking small steps to make it happen. It might take a while, but it’s possible.
Want some help with
Let me know if you’d like to speak to me about moving forwards with your big dreams, and dealing with your mindset. Removing barriers. I can help! I love doing this. I’ll help you to see the possibilities, and we’ll work out a plan together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking.