By Shari Leid, written for Diversity Professional Magazine, published Spring 2022 edition.
Does it seem like everyone these days has a life coach? If you haven’t worked with a life coach before, you may be wondering what exactly a life coach does. When describing the work of a life coach, I often provide the analogy of an athlete working with an athletic coach. Just like an athletic coach who takes an athlete’s raw talent and guides the athlete from where they are to where the athlete wants to be, a life coach knows that each client already possesses the raw skills, talents, and answers to have the life and career of their dreams and it’s the job of the life coach to guide the client towards bringing those skills, talents, and answers to fruition so that the client may live life to its full potential, live a life that feels fulfilling.
I’m a life coach who coaches women who are in their early 40s to late 50s, who often come to me because they are considering changing careers or are returning to the workforce after years of staying home with kids. Most of the women I work with have found that the careers they pursued when in their 20s are no longer aligned with the impact that they now want to make on the world. Most of my clients when deciding what career shift to make, wish to rediscover what they are truly passionate about, and my first step of coaching them through this self-discovery process is by asking them to consider these 4 questions, in this order:
1. What is the transformation that I wish to see in myself as I embark on my new career?
2. What is the transformation I want to see in my ideal client because of the work that I do?
3. What is the transformation that I want my work to have in the world because of the work that I do?
4. What is the transformation I want to see in my income/business?
A common mistake when considering a career change is beginning the discovery process by jumping directly to question 4, giving the most energy to determining what will bring in the highest income or carries the most impressive title. When energy is spent primarily here, it is very likely that the career chosen will be one that quickly becomes unfulfilling, leaving the individual feeling disappointed and stuck.
Developing skills to pivot to a new career can be challenging. This can be especially challenging for those who are reentering the workforce after time away. I know this firsthand. I actively practiced as a litigator for 15 years before staying at home with my kids. A full 10 years passed by the time I decided to reenter the workforce, pursuing my current career as a life coach and writer. I did not come about my new career choice lightly. Over a period of several months, I answered and pondered the 4 self-discovery questions listed above. After this discovery process, I was confident in my new career choice, but I needed experience and training. Entering the career of my dreams was going to take some time and some work.
If you find yourself in a similar place, give yourself grace, you’re not alone. The path to developing new skills is an exciting opportunity to test the waters to see if you really enjoy the new career before diving straight in. In the process of writing the Friendship book series, I spoke to several women who, like me, changed careers in their mid 40s and early 50s, and the number one recommendation that I heard from each of them is when making a career move or getting back into the workforce, begin by networking. Find mentors and ask questions. Look for professional organizations to join, volunteer your time in an area that interests you to develop your skills and add to your resume´. If schooling or training is needed research the number of options available. Now more than ever, there are education and training options that are available to fit your budget and time constraints.
Finally, in this process of discovery, remember that finding self-worth outside of your profession is important. As you embark on this process, while pondering Question 1, “What is the transformation that I wish to see in myself as I embark on my new career?”, imagine yourself at a party, introducing yourself, without using your job title. When you recognize your worth outside of your professional title, then no matter what career you embark on or the winding path that your career journey may take you on, you’ll always know your worth and feel confident because through this discovery process, you will not only find the career of your dreams, but you will also realize that you are your own north star.