Before I coached, I was in education for many years and taught at a private school for the last few years of it. I was stressed, dissatisfied, and fatigued. I had no work-life balance similar to a lot of professionals these days, especially in our digital communication age (where you can leave your office but it never leaves you).
I was staying late to mark and prep or taking my work home. I struggled to get up in the mornings and increasingly needed to take power naps during lunch. My health was not doing well so I did a battery of tests and I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and Non-REM parasomnia, a sleeping disorder.
I was also unhappy and unfulfilled. For the most part, I enjoyed teaching and liked most of my co-workers, but I did not like the culture or administration of the school. Plus I always felt there was something missing in teaching.
At one point, the dissatisfaction was so unbearable that I made a plan to change it around. By making that decision, I am now a certified life and career coach and love what I do. Since coaching, I have aided the lives of many clients, speak and sponsor at various events, host or co-host webinars and podcasts, enjoy my lifestyle (including more travel) and continue to grow both personally and professionally.
If my teaching story sounds like you, here are the three things I did to change my career so you can apply them as well:
Step 1: Step Away
Take an hour, day, week or month off from your usual routine; ideally, more than an hour but anything to remove yourself from the situation and interrupt the pattern. I figured out I wanted to become a coach when I prioritized just me time. I usually travel during my breaks as a teacher but this time I decided not to travel to figure out what I want. It was December 27th, 2014 and I made a mental note to do nothing else that day but to figure out a new direction. I created space to get still and take the time to really listen to my internal voice. No phone, no laptop, nothing, just me and my notepad.
To step away you must prioritize yourself and honour that commitment. If I hadn’t I would have continued on the same path: a dissatisfied, overwhelmed teacher. Although I am a proponent of stepping away with no distractions, for some people stepping way is taking a vacation, having a bath or a Kit Kat :), or seeing a career and life coach. I know for most of my clients, seeing me was a break in their routine and a way to gain perspective.
Step 2: Get Clear
To gain perspective you need to get clear and that’s the second step. What do you want? What do you value? What’s your big why? It’s essential to get clear on these things to move forward and live from your inner compass. Now let’s take a moment with this one. What is your big why? Why are you doing what you are doing? Think about it. I value helping people with their potential and freedom of choice among other things.
I got clear once I stepped away and assessed where I was at and where I wanted to be. Taking inventory can be painful, but it is crucial to get the life you desire. I recall sitting on my couch; I wrote all the things I wanted and there was a lot I already accomplished but there were some things I hadn’t so I started to question and coach myself (all self-talk of course!) about why I did not do the things I wanted to do as of yet. I wrote it all down and after several moments of frustration and stillness, I got my answer: Life Coach! And I knew, with all my being, that was it.
For the next two days, my eyes were bloodshot from all the research I did on my laptop. I was so passionate about it I threw myself in! It’s also about prioritizing what’s important to you.
Step 3: Take Action
Once you get clear and prioritize, you take action: the third step. After two days I signed up for a 10-month coach training course and within two weeks I started that course. Once you are clear, it’s imperative to be proactive. You will not get to where you want to go by keeping it an idea. It requires steps and effort to achieve it. I trained while I taught and started to coach soon after. I built up my clientele enough to leave teaching that summer, on my birthday in fact: a gift to myself. I would not have been able to do that if I sat with it.
From my experience, you leverage your life by consistent action inspired by a clear identity and direction. I invite the reader to take imperfect action, however. Often we wait for the “right time” and it often does not happen. Interestingly, imperfect action is oftentimes just as effective if not more as you did not wait. My transition from teaching to coaching might seem smooth but there was a lot of imperfect action in between and a lot of learning along the way.
So if you are thinking of changing jobs or changing careers, I suggest you step away, get clear and then take action. Many of my clients also followed these steps with great success. They either relaunched their careers, obtained new careers or acquired better positions and compensation. It also provided them better boundaries and balance in their life. Ultimately, these steps helped us start living a life as opposed to surviving one.