I recently worked with a client who had just been laid off from her job due to corporate restructuring. A little bruised emotionally, she was finding it difficult to get focused on her job search. I asked a simple question that I ask most clients. “What is your dream job?” Not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with the work she’d spent the past 20 years doing. Her answer: “I love to organize things. I’d love to be someone who helps people get their houses organized.” The most surprising part was that she didn’t know this could actually be a career path. So, we dug deeper on what this dream job would look like and how she might explore options. Fortunately, she knows people whose work aligns with her goal and who she can collaborate with. She’s already had conversations about how they might work together. While she is still in the planning phase, she is well on her way to starting her own business as a home organizer and model home stager. And from there, who knows where she will go? She is pursuing her passion for being organized and helping other people discover how much joy, yes, Marie Kondo said it first, and freedom being organized can bring.
Are you stuck in a job because it’s what you’ve always done? Or perhaps you’ve lost your passion for what you do. Or maybe you’ve just reached a point in life where you want to follow a passion. It’s never too late. Don’t wait. Start the work to discover your passion and how you can spend your days pursuing it. It will change your life! Some great resources are Simon Sinek’s FIND YOUR WHY, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans’ DESIGNING YOUR LIFE, or a career coach.
Growing up, all I wanted to be was a wife and mom. Never in my wildest dreams, did I imagine a career! I went to college because that’s what was expected of me. I pursued a degree in journalism, fell in love, and quit college to move to Florida with my boyfriend who had already graduated.
This was followed by one job after another. I was always good at what I did, but they were nowhere jobs. I was ok with that for a few years, because, remember, my only goal was to get married and be a mom. But life had other plans for me that took me years to realize, much less understand.
Seven years after moving to Florida, working in the Financial Aid office of a private college, and was offered a promotion to Financial Aid Director of a school that had just been purchased in Seattle. From the moment I first saw Seattle, on a cold, rainy March day, I was in love! I knew this was the move for me.
Still not thinking about a ‘career’, I worked away there, and at a number of subsequent jobs over the next few years. I found myself married and thought that was it. Not so much. I started to feel discontent with not having finished college because in job after job, I was told if only I had a degree, I could move higher. So, I went back to school, graduating in Accounting from the University of Washington, quickly got recruited to Microsoft and things went well….for a while. Fast forward several years later and I’m divorced and living in Washington, DC having held several different positions using my accounting degree, but finding myself immensely unhappy. The work was too repetitive, too detailed, too mundane. Something wasn’t right. I was on the precipice of discovering my WHY. But, not so fast.
First, I had to do some discovery. I looked back over my life and asked myself when had I been happy, what work had I done that I really enjoyed or was really good at? This led to me pursuing my masters degree in Human and Organizational Learning at The George Washington University. It felt easy. I felt at home. I never looked back. That was the beginning of discovering my life’s goal. It took some more years, but I eventually realized that my WHY, my reason for being, is to help others and in some small way, make the world a better place. This is what led me to coaching, and career and retirement coaching in particular. Having been so unhappy so many times throughout my career, I’m passionate about helping others get there sooner. It took me over 20 years to reach the point where I love my work. I don’t want others to have to wait as long.
My WHY isn’t just limited to work. It’s who I am at all times. I love to quilt, but rarely make one for myself. They are all baby gifts. During the pandemic, I’ve been fostering a dog (and eventually adopted) and making masks to donate to underserved communities. It’s like I can’t help myself. If there is a need where I can help, I will dive in.
So, what is your WHY? Do you know or are you still looking? Maybe I can help. My coaching begins right there – discovering your WHY so we can establish a path to get you where you really want to be! Why wait! Schedule a strategy session with me today.
Have you been thinking about retirement, but unable to take that step? Is something holding you back? Despite having planned your entire career for this time of life, it is not unusual to struggle in actually making this transition, particularly when there is no forced retirement in your work. It’s ironic that something you’ve looked forward to for so long seems scary and uncertain when the time comes. Of course, the pandemic may have brought some financial concerns to the topic of retirement, but there is so much more to consider.
There is a little known secret that can help you now. Retirement coaches! We are specially trained and certified to assist you with the non-financial factors surrounding retirement. These include things like replacing your identity at work, hobbies, relationships, spirituality and so much more.
If you’ve been wondering if you’re ready for retirement, or what your retirement might look like, the pandemic presents you with an opportunity to do a ‘trial run’ with retirement. I worked with a client several years ago who had this issue. Despite being age-eligible for retirement and having all financial issues in line, she was resisting taking that step. Something in her was keeping her from being able to actually leave her job. One of the factors we identified was what to do in all that suddenly available time. We worked through the concerns and decided she would take a leave of absence from her job. This time would allow her to look at her life as though she were in retirement. She spent the three months rediscovering hobbies, connecting with friends and family and discovering that her retirement could be fulfilling and enjoyable. The result? She confidently set a retirement date and has now been happily retired for some time.
You can use this time for a similar exercise. You may not realize what factors are holding you back from retiring, and that’s where an assessment comes in. With the help of your coach, you can identify the issues and establish a plan to evaluate the factors that are preventing you from retiring. With luck, we won’t have 3 months of the pandemic, but you can use what time is involved to test the waters. Develop or rediscover hobbies as my client did, look at volunteer or part-time job opportunities, decide with your family what time commitments will look like. Following the trial run, you and your coach can evaluate what you discovered, make whatever adjustments are necessary, have a much clearer idea of what life will look like post-career, and perhaps, set that date!
Andrea is a career, life and retirement coach, certified by the Neuroleadership Institute and Retirement Options. She works with individuals to help them live their dreams throughout their career and into retirement.
I recently posted an article on LinkedIn about how important it is to have something to say about how you used this time. Check it out at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-what-did-you-do-during-pandemic-andrea-cole/?published=t
Photo credit: Flickr: Catrin Austin
Life Jumping. Interesting phrase, right? It’s a term I use for the major transformational changes I’ve made in my life. Not once, not twice, but five times, and there is another coming up! Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been doing something my entire life that many people could never comprehend doing. That is turning your life upside down to transform to something new. I’ll start by sharing a quick peek into my life.
In my third year of college in Massachusetts, I found myself unhappy with my chosen major and dreadfully missing my boyfriend who had graduated and moved to Florida. I suffered for a number of months, wallowing in what I knew was not the right path. What did I do? I took my first life jump. I quit college and moved to Florida to be with my boyfriend. It would be years before I finished college, but I eventually did. That’s another jump that comes later.
This first jump was followed by a number of them, including moving from Florida to Seattle in 1983 to take a promotion that involved a transfer. I married, finished my degree, worked at Microsoft, and divorced in the space of 14 years. When I divorced, I looked at my life. There I was 3000 miles from family, with a sister and family on the opposite coast. I decided I wanted to be a part of my niece’s life, so I quit my job and moved myself to the DC area. I thrived there. I worked for another tech company, worked internationally, earned my masters degree, changed careers from accounting in tech to learning and development, and worked for a major non-profit. But, after 15 years, I knew my time there had come to an end. Seattle has always called to me, so once again, I quit my job, sold my house, and moved myself back to Seattle, where I knew I belonged. I’ve moved once more and will be returning to Seattle once the pandemic has passed. It truly is where I belong.
When I tell people this story, the most frequent comment is “You’re so brave. I could never do that.” My response is never “Yes, I am.” It’s more “I just have to do what’s right for me.” You see, I’m not afraid to upend my life for something better. I really do believe in the saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Yes, I’ve paid a price. My roots are not deep, friendships are somewhat fractured, but I’m lucky to be really good at maintaining friendships over long distances and time. I sometimes envy people who stay put; who’ve always lived in the same town. There is something wonderful about such deep roots. They just haven’t been part of my life. I don’t know why. I just know that if/when I reach a point where I am not satisfied with my life, I’m willing to do what it takes to find happiness.
Unintentionally, I’ve learned that my story has inspired other people to make their own life jumps. It’s exciting to watch as others recognize when it’s time for a change and are willing to take the risk to give it a try. Is it for everyone? Most certainly not. Does a life jump always need to be so drastic? No. It might simply be a career change, or a relationship change. But life jumps are nonetheless major transformational moments in a person’s life. They are scary, they are a learning experience, but from my own personal experience, they are completely worth it. Are there any that I wish I hadn’t made? Not one!
I love sharing my story and it nurtures the work I enjoy doing – helping others make their own life jumps. For years now, I have been a career coach, helping people find happiness in their careers. This has always included an element of life coaching as often there is a personal element to any job change. More recently, my work has transformed into helping others design and make their own life jumps by moving from the place they are now to a new place of their own desire. As I look at what people are experiencing during this pandemic; fear, uncertainty, and more, I wonder how many will spend this time considering the future they want. We’re going to see a different world when we emerge from this. Companies will be hiring, new businesses will be sprouting up more remote work will be available. It’s truly going to be a brace new world we can’t even image. Maybe this is the perfect time to plan your own life jump! Are you with me? Let’s do this!
Two weeks ago, our lives changed….drastically! Like you, I had plans in place that had to be scrubbed, or at least delayed. There aren’t many people who are unaffected by the current pandemic. But, today, let’s talk about those of you who are looking toward retirement in the not-to-distant-future. Sure, there are most likely adjustments to be made. Where do you turn for guidance? The first and obvious place is your financial advisor. The second place is less obvious, but equally available to assist during this turbulent time. As a certified retirement coach, I work with individuals looking ahead to retirement but faced with concerns or obstacles. I can only imagine what someone who was just 6 months from retirement is going through right now, watching stocks tumble and job security uncertain.
There are two distinct people I worry about today. One is, as mentioned, the person who has done everything right and was on the road to retire in the next 6-12 months. Where do those plans stand now? How is the pandemic impacting not only your financial status, but family, housing, social? Retiring is a HUGE change in your life. You are no longer heading to an office every day, socializing with colleagues, engaging in challenging ways. How are you going to replace that? This is a question many of my clients ask. Our work together answers that question for most. With coronavirus, that secure retirement may be at risk. Not only because of finances, but what about your spouse, your parents, your children? If this quarantine continues, how will you socialize? What about healthcare? How might this be impacted? And how do you decide whether to proceed with retirement, or develop an alternate plan?
The second group of people I worry about are those who may have recently lost their jobs with this new reality. For those who are in their late 50s or older, getting a new job can be a challenge. Are you wondering if you should just retire now? If you’ve saved and have an adequate nest egg, maybe this is something to consider. I’ve worked with many laid off people over the years, and it’s not unusual for someone to decide to retire rather than attempt to reenter the workplace.
Both groups have questions. How will I fill my time? I don’t want to just sit around. How do I do something to contribute? Like many of my colleagues, I believe we need a new definition for retirement, because the majority of people continue to work in some way. They start a business, go into a line of work that follows their passion, work a part-time job, or volunteer.
But, where do you turn for help? That’s what I, and my fellow retirement coaches, do. We help you assess the various issues to consider, identify those that require some attention, and work to answer the questions you have such that you can move ahead, confident with your decision. My process begins with an assessment that you complete in privacy by answering various questions about both your vision of retirement and the factors in your life that are related. The assessment is the starting point for our coaching sessions. We walk through any of the factors that appear to be of concern and discuss them. Each following coaching session moves you forward, discussing each factor and seeking solutions to your question. The end goal – you have a plan for your retirement beyond the finances! You may decide to make the move now, or you may decide to delay for some period of time. The important thing is, you’ve got a plan that you’re confident about.
If you are interested in learning more about my retirement coaching services, I invite you to reach out to me at email@example.com, 206.658.7919, or schedule a complimentary 15 minute call HERE.
Thinking coronavirus and social isolation is going to hurt your networking during the job search? Think again.
flickr.com: Carrie Jones
Tammy was depressed. Her organization had gone through a restructure that had her now reporting to a former peer, who was promoted to a newly created position. While Tammy’s title and salary hadn’t changed, the ‘moving down a level’ had severely impacted her self-confidence. She was embarrassed and hurt. All of this fell on top of recently losing a parent and the end of a long-term relationship. Work had been the ‘good thing’ in her life that kept her going. All that changed in a flash. Each day, Tammy sunk deeper and deeper within herself. She was too ashamed to speak to anyone about it, so was living ‘in her head’ with all that had occurred. Each day, Tammy would go to work and keep to herself, then go home at night and cry. She was deeply depressed. This went on for months. She simply didn’t know what to do. Going to work was painful in itself, and speaking with anyone about it was just too hard.
So, for months, Tammy continued this way. People at work started to avoid her, and she had already isolated herself from her personal life. Eventually, she found her way to see professional help. She remembered almost turning back upon reaching the coach’s office. This was just too hard and too embarrassing!
In her first meeting, she came to realize that while there was some element of performance in what had transpired, the toxic environment of an organization lorded over by a narcissist had been the root cause of the situation. She was also able to see that she was not the only person impacted in this way in the organization. Both of these realizations went a long way to help her begin the healing process. For the first time in months, she started to regain her self-confidence.
She and her coach met weekly for some time, continuing to explore the current situation, as well as other factors that had brought her to this point in life. While she had focused solely on the job situation, she came to see how her other losses had exacerbated the depression. Slowly, very slowly, Tammy was able to crawl out of her depression. Through self-discovery and the coach’s prompting, she was able to find a solution to her current situation. While she had loved the organization in which she worked, she now saw that the healthiest thing she could do was to seek new employment. With her renewed confidence, and a better awareness of what to avoid in an organization, Tammy secured a new position where she was able to thrive.
Coaching is a powerful tool. It’s not therapy. It’s more like spending time with a neutral party that will help you explore what you’re unable or unwilling to see on your own. The coach doesn’t ‘tell’ you anything. He/she, instead, asks you powerful questions that help you find the answer you seek within yourself. Even as a coach, I have a coach – someone I can talk through things with when I’m unsure where to turn. While we all have the answers we seek within ourselves, we can’t always bring ourselves to find the answers on our own.
If you’re stuck, or find yourself in a difficult situation at work, I urge you to seek out a professional to work with. This person will be neutral. They will listen to your story, ask you questions, challenge you, and ultimately help you find the answers you seek. Sometimes, like Tammy, it will mean leaving your job. In others, it might simply be a new way to look at things, or the clarification or repairing of a relationship. Whatever the situation, it’s better to seek professional help than muddle through unhappy.
Ever feel like you’re stuck and you’re not sure which way to turn? Or maybe you reach out to friends and family, but don’t feel you receive the input that will really help you move forward. I get it. For most of my life, I’ve been alone. I’ve had to make large, life-changing decisions without the benefit of someone else who was equally invested in the decision. Whether it was quit my job, sell my house and move across the country, or seek counseling for a toxic work situation in which I found myself, I’ve been there. And, just because I’m single, doesn’t make me any more ‘alone’ than you. I’ve worked with men who were laid off, but hadn’t told their wives and kids because they felt some sense of shame (which by the way, they shouldn’t have). So, no matter the circumstance, we do find ourselves alone at times, having to make a decision and not having a clue how we’re going to find resolution.
photo courtesy of Esther Vargas: flickr.com
Nearly everyone knows they should have a LinkedIn profile. They may spend the 30 minutes to upload a profile photo, enter some jobs and maybe complete one or two other fields. Some will even take note of the profile strength LinkedIn provides on your profile screen. Few know to go beyond this. To really use the power of LinkedIn for networking, job searching, or anything else professionally, you need to do more. But take heart. I teach all of my clients how to use the power of LinkedIn to reach more people, to attract more recruiters and to grow their career with as little as 10 minutes a day. Ok, so enough of my meanderings, here’s what you should do.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.