Stepping off the beaten track of a known career path or changing to an entirely different career, takes courage, determination and the ability to get up when things don’t go the as planned. I’ve seen the same in the many successful career changers I’ve worked with.
Courage here is not an absence of fear. Its origin is ‘cor’, the Latin for heart. In its earliest form: ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’ – to be open to feeling vulnerable. I know vulnerability is one hell of an icky word, and it’s been very popular to throw around, AND stepping off the beaten career track means getting comfortable (or at least not fighting against) with feeling vulnerable.
Vulnerable because you don’t know where you’re going when you start out. Vulnerable because many people around you in your work or life won’t get it (no matter how many times you explain). Vulnerable because when you take an undefined path you will make mistakes.
Vulnerable because one of the most important things you can do as you step out is to get people in your corner who can support you, challenge your assumptions and information from their own experience of the world – you’ve got to get real!
Who can you invite into your corner today?
‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage’ – Anais Nin.
I love staring at the sky on a blue-sky-fluffy-cloud kind of day. I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t stare at the amazing shapes they make and conjure up animals, faces, mythical creatures and more from the clouds. I used to lie down and look-up and wait for the right shapes to emerge.
I even went to an amazing piece of outdoor theatre as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival a few years ago which involved lying on giant bean bags staring at the sky while a slightly eccentric lady read anecdotes and scientific facts about clouds. Unfortunately for her the sky was a perfect blue with barely a whisp of cloud in sight . She covered it well.
Watching the clouds form into unique shapes is something I’ve done my whole life. It’s not only about allowing my creativity to run rife. It’s also the feeling of being so small and insignificant compared to the incredible vastness of the sky. I catch my breath, I feel bigger, more spacious somehow, more grounded (funny that ). And I’ve squeezed it into tiny gaps, often almost missing the opportunity to notice them at all.
It’s easier when it’s warmer. I love grabbing a blanket and lying down with small to cloud spot even though she’s really too young and it usually ends (as most games do) with mummy as a human climbing frame. Or when I’m doing the washing up and staring into the garden and the sky beyond. Breathing space.
Today I spotted them on a walk, a brief moment in the midst of the latest game to get us round.
What are you missing out on because you’ve stopped noticing?
PS there’s no prize, but what did you spot in the clouds…?
Three years ago I left my last role in tax. In the time between then and this time last year, I worked really hard to develop my skills in coaching, facilitating and leading online career change programmes.
In February 2020 COVID-19 landed in my home city of Brighton and Hove with a bang. I was meant to be performing in a musical theatre show with the fantastic community theatre group I’m a part of, and it looked increasingly unlikely we would be able to go ahead. Fortunately the local cases dropped off as fast as they arrived and we put on our production of ‘Kipps: Half a Sixpence’ to superb reviews.
I was also meant to be co-leading another career change programme and by this time the cases were spiralling. Call it intuition or good-reading of the data, but I was already convinced the ‘lockdowns’ we’d heard of from around the world would only be weeks away at home. I had to make the hard decision to pull out of the course. I remember getting off the call, hanging my head in disappointment and bursting into tears at the sadness, frustration and fear I was feeling.
It was a great decision for me, and for my family. I created time I will never forget for all the right reasons. Wonderful moments of connection, fun and creativity that I would never have chosen to make time for had circumstances not changed. I also fell into a black hole of COVID-19 disappointment, and turned to my own coach to tune back into creating my own life instead of letting lockdown life define me.
I’ve spent the last six months undertaking further training and development as a coach, levelling-up my confidence and ability to show up in my business, in my life and in the world in a way that aligns with who I really am. I’ve created coaching relationships and support networks with incredible people. I’ve grown exponentially in this time on my own journey of personal growth too. And I am loving working with my clients and witnessing their own powerful transformations. I find it so energising and such an incredible privilege to see them rise in their power too.
I realised, as I did this work, I’d never announced that I’d officially left my career in tax. I very quietly changed my job titles and my personal statements because I was scared what people might think and how they might react. My journey of personal growth has brought a new confidence to own who I am and the contribution I make in the world.
When my husband said to my daughter the other day “Mummy runs her own business”, I thought ‘oh, wow!’ I know it’s what I do and yet I’d never thought of it like that. Yes, I do – that’s what I do now!
I believe life is an INCREDIBLE adventure and the possibilities are infinite, vast and exciting! I run my own business focussed on breaking through what holds people back from creating those incredible adventures and really stepping into the power of their dreams and visions for their future. I am incredibly excited about it!
I’m going to be showing up a LOT more on social media sharing my own journey and inspiration for your own adventures along the way.
I have two spots available for 1:1 VIP Coaching. If you are interested, send me a message. I’m also really excited about my plans for Masterclass – watch this space!
Thank you to everyone who has, and is, supporting my journey and my adventures. If you’re excited about what I’m doing, send me a message and let’s talk.
I’ve never failed an exam. I passed all my tests/exams at school. I was 3rd in my year at law school, and I passed all my professional tax exams first time (the pass rate for the Chartered Institute was an average of less than 38%). I even passed my driving test on my first try. I’m used to academic success. And that level of success doesn’t always come easily.
I taught myself GCSE economics from a book because I didn’t think my teacher was giving me what I needed to succeed. I passed with flying colours. I did the same with half my economics A level (you’d think I would have learned…). I’ve passed so many exams with great grades you’d think I’d feel confident sharing it with you, wouldn’t you?
But the truth is I’m not. This feels edgy. This feels HARD for me. I don’t like to share my successes because I’m afraid of what you might think of me. I’m scared I won’t fit in. I’m frightened you won’t like me, that you’ll think I’m big-headed or proud. I’m scared because I really want to be liked, I want to fit in, I want to belong.
But now I am tired of keeping myself small in case I offend someone. I’m fed up of hiding and pretending not to be the girl and the woman who achieved, and who continues to achieve. I’ve had enough of playing a small life – it’s time to show up.
I’ve never liked not being able to do something. I don’t like the feeling if I can’t. My heart-rate rises, my stomach churns and the resulting adrenaline rush messes up my ability to think on the spot. I just want to be able to do it, whatever it is. I want to get it right the first time and I get extremely frustrated with myself when I can’t. The standards I set for myself are extraordinarily high.
It didn’t dawn on me until recently that I always have a choice when those moments occur. I can choose to accept that I can’t do it. To walk away. In many ways it would be the simple answer for me. Leave whatever it is unfinished and go do something easier, something else. Sometimes that’s a good choice – if I’m getting caught up in something small that doesn’t warrant my time and energy.
But I very rarely make that choice. My default is to find a way to do it. I struggle with it, I try stuff out and experiment (what happens if I do… some of it works and some of it doesn’t), I ask for help from someone I think might know how to do it and thank goodness for YouTube for those practical ‘how to fix…’ videos. I don’t give up.
I always followed my default – why wouldn’t I keep going and push on until I can do whatever it is I think I need to do? Then recently I realised my default choice had become so default it wasn’t a conscious choice anymore. I wasn’t consciously choosing to push through and find a way, I was on autopilot. And the autopilot’s message was ‘what does this say about me if I can’t do it? Who am I if I can’t do it?’
Using autopilot has led me to some fantastic results – my insanely high standards have helped me to create and achieve amazing things but the cost has been high. Pushing on through, working long hours, spending all that time and energy to be able to do it, losing my patience with unsuspecting friends and family in the midst of my frustration with myself, losing all sense of the significance or importance of whatever I’m trying to do (I mean, who really cares if I can make the perfect tomato sauce or not!), burning the proverbial candle at both ends – it’s had an impact on my health. I’ve made myself ill. Repeatedly. I’ve pushed myself so hard my body couldn’t fight off the common cold and I’ve ended up with chest infection after chest infection. Not great at all for someone who loves to sing. My family and friends have told me again and again not to push myself so hard. I’ve ignored them. Being able to do it all has always been the most important thing. Until now.
Before Christmas I tried to push on through some big physical and emotional stuff. There were things I was trying to do that I couldn’t do. I tried to solve problems that were not even mine to solve. I tried to push on by giving my projects even more time – staying up late, pressing in. Pushing, pushing, pushing. And then I stopped. I noticed the choice I was making. I knew if I kept on I would make myself ill. It was in my hands. It felt like I didn’t have a choice. And I did.
So I made a choice. I stopped. I cancelled all my planned calls. I dropped everything that wasn’t truly urgent and important. I work for myself so I had the luxury of being able to set my out of office message there and then. I got really present to each moment of each day and I didn’t try to do the things I felt I couldn’t do. I knew this time I wanted to choose powerfully. For me.
It was scary. I felt sick as I shared what I was feeling with the fantastic community of high-performers I’m part of. Certain of their judgment. Maybe a few kicks in the backside to get me moving again. I felt so incredibly vulnerable. I felt like a failure.
It wasn’t like I imagined at all. I was surrounded with their love, support, understanding and the challenges I needed for later. I discovered my own power and energy from making a choice that really served me. My vulnerable, hard choice gave me time to rejuvenate, to refresh and recharge my worn out batteries so that I had new energy to tackle the things when I came back to play.
Vulnerable and powerful. It’s funny how those two go hand-in-hand…