'Oh no! What now?' It was May 2015 and after a year of uncertainty, I could almost hear the fear in my own words! It had taken that long to actually sign on the dotted line. I had a settlement agreement from my employer and would be leaving my post as a Childcare Development and Business Officer after 14 years; the longest period I had ever held in any one job. A totally voluntary decision on my part; they had agreed to 'let me go!'.
‘Oh no! What now?’ It was May 2015 and after a year of uncertainty, I could almost hear the fear in my own words!
It had taken that long to actually sign on the dotted line. I had a settlement agreement from my employer and would be leaving my post as a Childcare Development and Business Officer after 14 years; the longest period I had ever held in any one job. A totally voluntary decision on my part; they had agreed to ‘let me go!’.
I loved working and had been in employment almost continuously for the previous 38 years. My colleagues had assumed I was intending ‘winding down’ and some were asking me about my plans. Big question, and I did not have the answer!
My role had changed beyond recognition. I had initially been appointed as a Senior Development Officer (Childcare) but over recent years moved away from advising and supporting people to working with data and strategy. It was not what I truly enjoyed doing and I was working under immense pressure and feeling totally exhausted.
I knew the reality of my situation would give me the kick start I needed. But what was I to do now? I had a range of expertise, qualifications and experience, and with a little financial ‘cushion’ it gave me far more to think about.
It was such an opportunity, but until that point I had not allowed myself to even think that it might really happen; there had been no real certainty that it would. Panic however, was definitely setting in! I knew it was the right decision to leave but it was now real. I could be out of work in seven months’ time, with little income and I needed, and desperately wanted, to be working.
I started to reflect on what I had done in my life and what I really wanted now and in the future.
I clearly remembered at the age of 18, being confronted by my careers advisor asking ‘so what do you think you might like to do?’ Pause, not sure . . . . ‘I like meeting new people, so perhaps a job working with people?’
I was steered towards a post with Local Government. Six months later I was sat behind a glass screen in the benefits office giving support and advice. Quite a scary position for a young girl! This was the start of my ‘work with people’. As my confidence grew I came to love the job, helping the sick, unemployed and elderly, and I continued in this post for ten years, finishing after having my second son.
During the recession of the early 1990’s my entrepreneur husband then came up with the idea of opening a day nursery for pre-school children. It was at a time when many women were deciding to return to work after having their children but there were very few childcare options available. We were also having our own struggles with childcare for our young sons.
I established a training arm to my business and had a great deal of success in working with students, young apprentices and trainees and supporting them with their personal and professional development. I really loved the rewards and job satisfaction that this provided.
After another ten years I was ready for a change and new challenge.
I sold my business and secured the perfect job using the skills, expertise and qualifications that I had then acquired; working as an advisor within the local authority, supporting and training others to do what I had done.
All this reflection made me think about what I most enjoyed in life. It was quite clear. Being in a position which enabled me to empower others. To be able to encourage, but to step back and feel their success when they had made their own decisions. Seeing their feelings of self-worth grow and how this in turn developed their confidence. I had seen how powerful and rewarding this could be.
I started to feel excited but also a little anxious – those words again, ‘what now?’ I only had an outline of my plan.
I decided at that point I would become self-employed again, take on a supportive and consultative role using my early years and childcare expertise and build on this. I had a long 7 month lead-in to my ‘departure’ date at the end of December 2015 but I knew that time would fly and I had to refine my plan and get myself organised.
With the power of the Internet I looked at what was available. I came across The Coaching Academy’s website, read some of the articles, reviews and testimonials and found the free introductory two day event! Just what I needed to get me focussed on my plans for the future and train as a coach I booked on the introductory course in September 2015 and it went far beyond my expectations! Fast-paced, interactive and engaging, fun, and totally professional. No hard sales! It got me totally on track and focussed with my own business development plans.
I also knew that the Personal Performance Coaching Diploma would be complimentary to the other services that I intended offering within my new business. The rest is history!
What I have discovered is that Life Coaching is something quite different to what I had originally thought and is all that I wanted it to be. It helps people to focus and achieve, it raises self-awareness for both the new coach and client; those powerful things that give people strength, confidence and resilience, and yes it’s definitely for me! I have learnt so much more about myself too. Important things that help me in my work with others.
I was at a crossroads in my life and without the support, encouragement and most importantly for me too, true professionalism, I would not have been inspired to write my story and continue my ‘journey’, and this is just it!
Whether it's a fear of failure, fear of being successful or fear of change it may sometimes seem easier to give into our fears and turn AWAY from our goals rather than making a choice which could have the potential to change things for the better. Life can push us into making difficult decisions but if we continuously hand over our power to our fears, it's likely that we'll end up on a path of missed opportunities, regret and disappointment.
Granting yourself permission to go for that senior position, trying online dating or perhaps attending a high profile networking event can require far more confidence than some may care to admit. If you would like to cultivate more confidence and build up the courage to go after what you want, below are some tools and techniques that you can apply to help your self-confidence to soar.