I was sitting in my usual perch at my favorite coffee shop – my virtual office – when it finally arrived. I opened my laptop and saw the email I had been waiting for. It read, “ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment Invitation”!
After fulfilling all the requirements to become ICF certified, this assessment was my final hurdle to starting my dream business as a Career and Life Transition Coach. As I read over the email for the 6th time, to make sure I was reading it correctly, I could not help but reflect upon just why and how I arrived at this moment. Cue the wavy picture and the doodley do, doodley do sound you know the one when the person in the movie has a flashback scene..
The transition begins...
It was back in 2016, and I had been in the education industry for nearly 20 years. I had worked as an academic advisor, managed the business degrees, developed curriculum, and taught in the classroom. I loved my work. I loved making a difference.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the school I worked at for 10 of those 20 years unexpectedly closed. I was at a total loss.
The fact that the place I called home was closing presented a particular problem that brought a whole new meaning of stress. Being a single father of my two kids, who were almost teenagers at this time and just starting high school, meant that I needed to find a job, and quick! I remember thinking, “holy crap”, what am I going to do now?! Luckily, we received a severance package that would keep me afloat for a short time, but the clock was ticking.
Time to make some money
After speaking with friends and colleagues, I discovered that working in a corporate training setting might be the best of both worlds! I would fulfill my life mission, helping people become their best versions of themselves, and make some of that Silicon Valley money (as I live in the heart of the Silicon Valley).
You see, as you may know, people who work in education do not choose it to get rich. They do so because of a higher calling, and I am no exception to that idea. However, having two teenagers meant earning more money would make life A LOT EASIER!
So, I set out and used the career transition skills I had been teaching for years to help with my own career transition.
To make a long story short, after a few weeks of relentless effort sending out my resume, I began to get noticed and calls for interviews. I have the feeling that I was on my way – I could practically taste the Silicon Valley payday!.
An invitation to treat transition as a job itself
As you probably know, navigating through a career transition, such as I was going through, takes some time. It is even said that you should treat it as a job in itself. The more you do it, the better you become at it. The same is true with interviewing. After a fair number of interviews, I was learning what the various organizations were looking for and was able to feel comfortable with my answers and began to shine in my interviews. (On a side note, knowing what I know now…if I had a coach to work with, I am confident that I could have shortened my time searching).
The dream job = money & miser
I accepted an offer for an organization (that will remain confidential) in a position within their training department. My feeling at the time was self-high five! I was employed, earning more than I had been before and working with very driven people. One would think I was set.
NOTHING could be further from the truth.
To put this into perspective, let me paraphrase the words of Nigel Marsh, who wrote the book Fat Forty and Fired. I began to realize that I was working with people who had a daily commute they hated, going to jobs they did not really like, making good money, but missing out on their family’s lives.
As an empath, it was like drinking poison every single day. I assumed that the problem was this particular organization, and so I repeated the entire chain of events. I went to work for an entirely different company…Same results. Needless to say, this was not going to work for me in the long run.
Adding family dynamics into the mix
There were some personal challenges to deal with too. Remember, I was also a single parent raising my two children who were now becoming full-blown teenagers (as if life wasn’t challenging enough). As my children grew older (and my intelligence and status diminished in their eyes), each one had a foot out the door. They naturally began to carve out their places in the world.
I realized that having solely focused on them, I neglected to cultivate my own life (a common pattern I see in my coaching clients too). The words of my therapist rang through my head – “you will continue to have a life to live long after they move out into the world.” I saw this happen right before my eyes.
Remembering what really matters
I remember the day that I finally stepped into my own power. I was sitting in yet another bumper to bumper traffic Jam, convincing myself that I could use this time to really enjoy my audiobooks. In reality, I was…sitting in a commute that I hated, going to a job I did not like, realizing I am missing out on a significant portion of my children’s lives, failing to develop my own.
That, my dear friends, is when I put my money where my mouth is. At that moment on that day, I decided to create my own business. Precisely what I was unclear about, but I was ready to charge full bore into the arena and figure it out.
At that moment, I finally understood what was askew in my life. I realized that I was always reacting to the other’s agendas. I was sick of being told when to be someplace (although if I am to be someplace, you can rest assured that I will be there early!). The most crucial piece of this is that despite making decent money, I was miserable.
Shawn Achor wrote a book called The Happiness Advantage. In his book, he describes that we, as a society, have things backward. We pursue success, thinking that it will bring us happiness, his research shows the exact opposite. If you pursue happiness, then success will naturally follow.
A NEW promise to myself
I made a promise to myself that day sitting in traffic. Right, wrong, good, or bad, I will NEVER sit in a soul-sucking cubicle EVER again. As the person in the car behind me honked at me because I guess I had been sitting there for a while after the light turned green…I drove off, and my journey for happiness began.