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You can do something you love.  You can be yourself in your career.  You have natural strengths you can transfer to a new setting.

If Only I’d Known, Career Change Life Lessons

As I started out on my career journey years ago, with hopes and dreams and all that life throws our way, the good and the bad, I’d have loved to have been equipped with a few truths to give me a solid starting point.

If only I’d known:

  • You can do something you love.
  • You can be yourself and have a professional career.
  • You have natural strengths that you can transfer to new settings.

If only I’d known these things I might have made different choices, taken some risks and without a doubt I would have been my true self a lot earlier in my career.  Who knows, I could have been living on a boat in San Francisco, nursing donkeys back to health in Portugal or performing the cancan at the Brighton Festival!

What career decisions would you take if only you knew ………?

You can do something you love

My first job was in a bank.  I fell into it because my friend worked there, I was organised and efficient and the pay was good.  My supervisor said I talked too much and eventually I went to work in a fair trade shop where I got to spend all day talking to customers about the fantastic products from around the world, bingo!  I progressed to become retail manager then retail and duty front of house manager at the National Media Museum.  Such a variety of people to meet, photographers, TV enthusiasts and cinema buffs, but the pay was terrible and I wanted a car, to go on holiday, to have money to enjoy my life so I made money a priority in my career choices.  I thought that being successful meant things like owning my own home, taking on more responsibility and increasing my salary.

If only I’d known that there are many factors that contribute to success, it means different things to each one of us.  For me, I started to realise that I wanted to make a difference to people and I guess that took me on my journey through volunteering and eventually to becoming a coach.  If only I’d known earlier that you can do something you love,  I might have done some work-based caring qualifications or perhaps gone to university to become a mental health nurse, which was in the back of mind for quite a few years ………who knows!

You can be yourself and have a professional career

We all want to feel that we belong, whether we realise it or not.  When I started out on my management career, as a middle manager I realised that it can be very lonely.  My team had expectations of me and so did the management above, I felt stuck in the middle, isolated.  As I moved through different leadership roles I wanted to belong and the natural attraction was to belong with other managers.  I felt the pressure to perform, to be the best and found I was comparing myself to others.  Without realising, I’d begun to make assumptions about what other people thought of me, which slowly started to erode my self-belief and with it some of my confidence and my identity.

If only I’d known that you can be yourself in your career.  If only I’d known (and believed) earlier that women from the north of England, who did their qualifications in the workplace, who are sometimes shy and who care about the wellbeing of others can be great leaders, efficient project managers and natural coaches.  I’d have believed in myself, stopped comparing myself to others and stopped trying to fit in.  I’d have been myself and had my own unique leadership identity much earlier on in my career.

You have natural strengths that you can transfer to new settings

Strengths are our natural abilities, the things we do every day without even realising it.  Throughout our interactions with people and our home and work activities we use our strengths.  We might have been juggling home schooling and running a business from our spare room during the pandemic.  We might say a cheery good morning to our local Big Issue vendor as we pass.  We might plan the shared household budget, so no-one gets behind with bills.

I didn’t realise that caring about people was a strength.  I didn’t realise that being organised was a strength.  I thought that I had to demonstrate the same behaviours as other people and other managers and prioritise performance results over kindness.  I thought that because I was an organised person I wasn’t a creative person.

If only I’d known that you can build on your natural strengths and use them in different settings.  I’d have been proud of my organisation skills.  I’d have known earlier that being able to hold a structured space for someone during a coaching session sets them free to be creative.  I’d have been proud to care and shown that you can be a compassionate leader and at the same time get business results.  Our strengths are the foundation upon which we can develop our skills, knowledge and experience.  We can transfer all of this to new settings, new careers and a new direction.

You can do something you love.

You can be yourself in your career.

You have natural strengths.

I’m now a successful leadership and career coach with a passion for supporting people to be their best self, a love of live music and a slight obsession with being by the sea listening to the waves!  If only I’d known those life lessons could I have been happier and felt fulfilled earlier in my career?  I wonder ………

Check out my ‘new career’ video series and my career coaching web pages for career change ideas.