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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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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.