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.
It can sneak up on you and happen when you least expect it. Yes, you’re stuck. In all aspects of your life, you find yourself stuck at times. You’ve been looking for a new job, but not making any progress. In a job, in a poor performance, or with a difficult boss. Or maybe you’re wondering if you’re in the right career at all. These are all situations I love to help people with. There are many qualified people to help you through the more sticky life situations, but when it comes to career situations, it calls for someone who can relate, having been in most of these situations, but also someone who has made a career out of helping other people love their career.
Did you stop networking once you landed that new job? Most of the clients I’ve worked with over the years answer ‘Yes’ to that question. Even though Networking is the most important aspect of the job search, it’s the first thing people stop doing once they successfully land a new job. Big mistake! You see, keeping your network active and growing is critical to your career. Yes, it’s important to the job search, but it’s also a powerful tool in your career advancement. Whether you are seeking a new job in another company or wanting to advance in your current employer, networking is the most direct path to get you there.
While qualifications, alone, should ‘get’ you a new job or a promotion, we all know that familiarity is a more powerful tool for that goal. People like to work with people they know and like. Few of us like to ask for help, and even fewer like to have someone we’ve not spoken to in a long time suddenly reach out for help. So, it’s important to keep relationships fresh. And I get it, you’re busy. You have a job that takes up most of your week and, if you’re lucky, you have a family or personal obligations. You don’t want to use the precious little time you have to ‘network’. Well, I like to use a more holistic approach to networking, and 30 years of building and maintaining relationships has given me this insight. I have moved from one coast to the other 4 times since 1983, and yet I have strong relationships with people everywhere I’ve lived and worked. On any given day, I might chat with a former colleague in England, New York, Washington, DC or Seattle. My friendships and connections are everything to me. The people that have entered my life are wonderful and supportive and inspiring. Why would I want to let those relationships go cold? Now you might be thinking, “Andrea must spend all day online and on the phone”. Well, I don’t. Here’s what I do and how I’ve maintained strong connections, and yes friendships, across the miles and years.
All of this helps make ‘networking’ something other than a dirty word. It just becomes a way of life. When it’s time for an ‘ask’, it will be so much easier because you’ll have been engaged with people. It’s less ‘networking’ and more just staying in touch. And don’t forget that you can help others too. Don’t make this a one-way street.
What questions do you have about networking? Drop them in the comments. I’ll share my thoughts.
I’ve been working with job seekers for several years now, and I think I’ve probably heard every question out there. I’ve noticed there are four questions that are frequently asked, so I thought I would share my favorite answers.
Question: I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs online and I’m not having any success.
Answer: Sorry, but you’re not going about your job search the right way. Only 10% of online applications make it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and reach the eyes of a recruiter. There are two key changes you need to make. 1) Create a short list of target companies that have the culture, work ethic, and other key criteria you seek in a company. Then pursue those companies. Don’t be chasing squirrels by just looking for jobs already posted on websites. 2) NETWORK. Yes, you may think that’s scary, but in many cases, it’s simply reaching out to people you already know. Literally everyone you know has a job, knows people who have jobs, and frequently know people who work at those companies on your short list. And, if you can’t find a contact within a company, see Question 4.
Question: I’ve created my short list of target companies, but I don’t have a contact at my top company.
Answer: Ok, so you don’t already know someone at the target company and can’t find someone else who may know someone there. Well, make a new connection at that company! Go into LinkedIn, look up people who do what you do at your target company and reach out to speak with them. Trust me. They’ll be receptive. Ask them about their work. Ask them about working there. Ask them how they got there or what advice they would give you. Not only will you learn something and meet someone new, but you might just become a top candidate for a job at your dream company!
Question: I’ve been with my company for 15+ years. I feel stale and wonder if anyone will be interested in me.
Answer: I both love and hate this question. I hate it because it speaks to the issue of ageism that is so rampant now. I love it because it gives me an opportunity to point out all the knowledge and experience they bring to the table and can start boosting confidence. As to being ‘stale’, take a refresher class or earn a certification that can be evidence that your knowledge and skills are fresh.
Question: I’ve recently started a new job, but it isn’t ‘as described’ or ‘my dream job just opened up’.
Answer: Sometimes, you’ve taken a job and learn in short order it’s not all it was advertised to be. You may have been misled by those interviewing you, intentionally or not. In the other most common scenario, you took the job after a long job search and simply needed a job and this looked good. But several months later, you have an opportunity for a job that is your dream job. People feel guilty and awkward looking for a job so quickly. It’s never too soon to look for a job and it’s never wrong to pursue your dream job. How you go about this, both in talking to the prospective employer and if you leave your current employer depends on how you communicate this. To the prospective employer, simply telling them this is your dream job, and while you regret how soon you might be leaving your current position, you know you couldn’t let this opportunity pass you by. To your current employer, pretty much the same message. Trust me. Nearly everyone has had this experience. I remember passing this opportunity up once. After starting a new job, I received a call from a company I had really wanted to work with. I declined being interviewed, soon learned the job I was in was toxic, and have always regretted the choice to decline. So, go ahead. Pursue that dream job. Nothing may come of it, but on the other hand, you could end up in your dream job!
What are your biggest questions around the job search? Enter them in the Comments and I’ll answer them.
As a career and retirement coach, I’m trained to help people make life’s transitions. One that I enjoy is helping people transition to retirement. You may think this is an easy transition, after all those years of anticipation, but in fact, many fail to successfully make the transition. After years of waking early, meeting deadlines and commitments, and having tight schedules, suddenly waking up and ‘doing nothing’ is a shock to the system…and the head!
Many people successfully make the transition. I have friends with vibrant social lives, and some with busy volunteer schedules. They are fully enjoying their retirement days. Others struggle. I made an attempt to retire myself recently, and found it extremely unsatisfying, lonely and I missed having a purpose.
Some observations I’ve made about why people ‘fail’ at retirement are:
Helping people avoid retirement failure is so rewarding and such fun! I believe everyone deserves the retirement of their dreams – whatever that means to them. Beginning with an assessment, we identify roadblocks to YOUR happy retirement, then develop a strategy to break through them, helping to ensure you have a happy and meaningful retirement. I’ve had a few clients take sabbaticals that allowed them to see how they would fill their days without work. The lessons learned from those experiences, helped them make adjustments to their plan.
Some strategies people have used include:
Everyone can have a happy retirement. It may just take some planning and redirecting your goals.
Don't wait. Get started on your dreams now. Book your complimentary 15 minute consult with Andrea now.
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.