So, I have been thinking for weeks that it is time to update the ABOUT ME section on my website. I have hemmed-and-hawed, dilly-dallied and generally put it off until today. Quite randomly, I had someone stop by my office, unannounced, no appointment scheduled, and I felt strongly that I should take the time and talk to him.
This gentleman just retired and was thinking about what do with the next third of his life professionally. He shared with me that in his early forties, he left a career as a successful, well-paid sales manager to become a therapist. He said what a blessing it was to have been able to spend even 15 years doing what he loved to do. When he told me this, I said, "That had to take a lot of courage." To which he responded, "Well, when you're ready to kill yourself rather than go in another day to work you hate, it becomes an easy decision."
Wow. My own story isn't so dramatic. But I was always the proverbial square peg in the round hole. I had followed the advice of parents, loved ones and several guidance counselors and picked a major in college that never felt like a good fit for me, Journalism. In retrospect, it was a great major and allowed me to do a lot professionally with it. I had nearly 25 years of professional success. Until I didn't.
I kept chasing the dream, and my final destination on my career path was always clear to me. Be the Senior or Executive Vice President of Marketing for a large healthcare system. So, I molded myself into what I thought I had to be in order to succeed and reach that point in my career.
I was at my last job for about 5 years. It was the perfect next step in my career path. I had planned it perfectly. But unfortunately, all the squeezing and twisting I had done to fit into the “correct” box wasn't working so well in this job.
I started my professional career a bit later than most people. I was in my late twenties and did what I thought I was supposed to do to get ahead. However, I always had these crazy thoughts of what I would rather be doing but always brushed them off. The thing is, I thought about this other career path nearly every day. And how much better I would be at it. And how much more I would enjoy it. I researched master's programs to get into this field. My dream was to get into clinical psychology or social work and spend my days counseling others.
When I mentioned this to loved ones, I'd hear, "But you'll never make any money doing that." And, "You'd have to start over at the bottom again." And, "But you have such a fantastic job and make good money doing it." And so, I'd put that dream on the shelf and look at it from afar.
When I turned 40, I took the job I thought was going to catapult me onto the career path and success I thought I wanted. But turning 40 also turned up the volume of that radio station I didn't want to listen to – the record skipping and repeating these questions – what else could I be doing? Don't I deserve to be fulfilled? Everybody else seems to like their job, why not me?
Then that other voice in my head would say, "Stop being such a whiny asshole. You have it good. You make a ton of money and you don't have to work that hard. Don't rock the boat, dummy."
But day by day, the battle between those two voices got increasingly louder. I was miserable. And I have always felt a great deal of shame admitting this to anyone, but my boss wasn't happy with my performance. That had never happened to me. I was always outstanding, always worked my ass off, put in 50-60-hour weeks routinely and always got great performance reviews. I was devastated when I got my first bad review. Then it happened again the next year, even though I thought I had "fixed" myself enough to pass. Damn it! I am going to make this work. But no matter what I did, I could not be somebody I just inherently wasn't.
During these tumultuous years, I distracted myself from my misery by looking into those master's degree programs and wondering how I could make it work. I think at some point, I was paying more attention to what could be rather than the job I was hired to do.
It was around 2010, and as often happens when we're paying attention to what it is we want, my awareness expanded beyond anything I knew about before and the idea of life coaching came into my consciousness. I became obsessed with it and researched it deeply. I began to believe that it could be a viable career option for me. It checked off all the boxes of what I was looking for and what I had dreamed about my entire adult life.
I graduated from a coaching school in 2012 and took a gigantic leap of faith and quit my job in 2013 to start coaching full time. It became obvious almost immediately that my coaching niche would become career coaching. I felt a deep connection to my clients who were suffering in jobs that felt like a dead-end or a bad fit. Over the years, I developed dozens of activities and exercises to help my clients find relief, even satisfaction and fulfillment, in their careers. And when it became obvious they needed to find a new career, I created a program designed to help them explore themselves and career options that could be a better fit.
It always felt a bit hokey for me to say things like, “My purpose is to help my clients avoid the career pitfalls I did by applying transformative coaching methodologies in a practical, sensitive manner.” But that idea is what gives me my greatest joy in doing the work I do.
And that is my new ABOUT ME section that is 100% truly about me. And how I became a coach and why career coaching is so important to me. And how I believe with all my heart that I am here on this earth to help others realize that they too can be deeply fulfilled by their career.