I've been asked numerous times how I got into coaching. Prospective career changers often ask me what I was doing before this and how I discovered what I wanted to be doing. Well, I thought it might be interesting if I shared my story so you could see how I got here... in case you were wondering!
It was May 2001, and I had a defining moment.
You see, up until that point, I had gone from job to job looking for a sense of fulfillment that I just could not find. In fact I had six jobs in seven years! I had studied Operations Research & Industrial Engineering at Cornell University and was on a path to becoming a very successful business analyst (BA)/process engineer.
The only problem was I was miserable.
I couldn't stand my jobs. Whether I placed the blame on the work, my boss, my co-workers, the company culture, or even the city I lived in, I found myself bored and dissatisfied at each and every job. Sometimes I lasted a year and a half, other times only six weeks. I had developed a habit of finding jobs that looked great on paper (read: they paid well!) but were not a match for who I was. I worked for financial institutions, the government, large telecommunications companies, and an international media conglomerate. It was the late 90s so switching jobs so quickly wasn't a big deal. Companies were thrilled to hire me. I never had a problem finding a job. My problem was finding a job I actually liked!
Between jobs four and five I woke up. I realized that the problem was not the job, the company, the boss, or the city I was living in. The problem was me! I was not a match for the BA work I had been doing. But what could I do? I was so lost. At that point I was determined to find my passion even though a part of me thought I really didn't have one (sound familiar?). In the meantime, I needed to keep working to pay my bills so I continued to work as a BA and tried desperately to find my passion on the side.
It was February 2000, and I was living in Baltimore, MD at the time. I had been at a major financial institution for about six weeks when I quit. I had reached my breaking point. I was bored to tears with the job and didn't know what else to do. It was then that I decided (with my husband's help!) that we needed to move back to NYC. I'm originally from the Bronx and was always lamenting about not being "at home". So I found a job working in Manhattan, rented out the house we had just bought the year before, and settled into a 1 bedroom with a backyard near Central Park.
I was thrilled. Sort of.
The work was much more exciting as I had gotten a job with a media company but I still wasn't living my passion. But at least now one of my major energy drains--not being back home--was plugged and I could focus on finding my passion again. In the Spring of 2001, things at my company got ugly. Our department went from over 100 people to about 20 or so. While I survived all the layoffs going on around me, I was bored and unfulfilled by the work. But instead of doing my normal routine of contacting recruiters, posting my resume, and applying to jobs, I looked inward. I realized for the first time that I had not had fun in quite a long time. So the first thing that came to mind was that I wanted to sign up for some fun classes like how to make jewelry, how to be a personal shopper, etc. In between these two classes, I signed up for "How to be a Life Coach." It was that one class that brought me home. I finally found the career AND life I was looking for... I had my light bulb moment!
I went back to my job elated! In fact I was beyond elated. It was an indescribable feeling to know what I wanted to do with my career. I remember telling friends and family and asking them to take this new interest seriously. They had heard me complain for years and throw out random ideas about work I could possibly switch to.
Well, they took me seriously because I took myself seriously. Within a month of that class I signed up for coach training, hired my own coach, and started my business coaching clients at night all while keeping my day job which I needed to pay the bills.
I created a financial forecast to see how long I had to keep working in my current job before I could switch to being a full-time business owner. My forecast was three years. I was devastated. You might as well have told me 30 years. Three years felt like it would be an eternity. With the help of my coach though, I stopped having a temper tantrum and just plugged away: at my business, at my day job, and at my money issues. You see, the three years involved paying off over 30K worth of debt and saving money to have a buffer for my business. Well guess what happened... while I worked at my business part-time the debt disappeared. I was so motivated by my newly found passion that in fact we paid off our debt plus bought brand new Crate & Barrel furniture in seven months!
I remember coming home and asking my husband why I was still working at this !@#$# job. And he said, "Well, let's see...there's your gym membership, our rent for this pricey apartment, the dinners out..." Ok, I got the point. I made an appointment with him (seriously, we made an appointment) to review our monthly expenses that night. When we went over everything and I eliminated things from our monthly budget that didn't matter as much as this career change, we found we only needed two more months to finish saving our buffer!
That meant I was going to be making this transition in nine months... not three years! WOOHOOOOOO!
In May 2002, when I was about to quit my BA job, I was happily laid off. I have been self-employed and living my purpose ever since.
So you see, you CAN make your career change even when you have no clue what you want and have bills up the wazoo. And what's even better, you can eliminate the learning curve I had to overcome. How? By reading the tips in my career change ebook, 107 Tips for Changing Your Career While Still Paying the Bills. Check it out here: http://www.segaric.com/products.shtml. Isn't your happiness worth it?