I struggled most of my adult life trying to find the perfect career.
As a child, I imaged all sorts of exotic careers - marine biologist, herpetologist (yes, Virginia, that IS the study of snakes), geologist, musician, writer and teacher.
One of the things I loved to do most was set up a classroom and "teach" the neighborhood kids. I have no idea of what I talked about - I just loved standing in front of a chalkboard talking to a group of people. Fortunately, I had 4 younger siblings that I could draft as my students.
Although both of my parents told me that I could be anything I wanted, like all kids, there were a lot of outside voices that told me what I "should" do.
"You SHOULD go to a good college."
"You SHOULD get a degree that can support you."
"You SHOULD do something that benefits the world."
And some more specific messages:
"Are you sure you really want to do THAT (said in reference to a lot of different career ideas)."
"You can't make enough money in that career."
"Stay away from the business school. All they're interested in is making money."
And so on...
No wonder I was confused!
I took all the usual aptitude and interest profiles in high school, but none of them really helped identify a career I was passionate about - AND meshed with all of those external voices.
Fast forward to college and, still having no idea what I wanted to do, I enrolled in the required first class in the education curriculum - early childhood education. Early childhood education isn't my cup of tea, so it's not surprising that I was disappointed in the class, the instructor, and my fellow students.
But I did something I now wish I hadn't. I listened to those external voices (which were now completely my own) and gave up on the idea of teaching. Completely, totally and without a second thought. For years. For decades. (Although happily, I eventually found a way to incorporate it into my career.)
One simple choice made all the difference in the world.
I made it through college and graduate school with a master's in city and regional planning, and although I loved it at the time, it never felt completely right. Over the years, I've transitioned successfully through many different types of jobs, starting as a city planner, then as a market researcher, asset manager, real estate agent, mortgage lender and marketing professional. All of them gave me satisfaction, and even joy, for a few years, but it took decades to find something I felt passionate about.
Along the way, I read countless books on discovering my purpose and uncovering my passions. I took classes on career discovery and talked to career counselors. I knew that I had something AWESOME to offer the world. And I knew I could be ANYTHING I wanted - if I only knew what it was. But none of them really helped.
None of them focused on me and the real issues I was having. None of them addressed the voices inside my head that I didn't even know were there. None of them were able to take me through the process of combining my interests, abilities, skills, purpose, passions and a host of other things to create my ideal career. None of them were personalized to the issues I was having.
I eventually figured this out on my own, but it took me decades of working in less than satisfactory jobs before I did. Looking back, I know a coach could have helped me get there much sooner.
Then, one day, I had that "light-bulb" moment when I was driving around in my car, where I usually have some of my best ideas. (It still gives me shivers to think about it.) I could do this. I could help people with the same struggles I once faced.
I could help them identify:
What they really wanted to do
What unknown childhood beliefs were stopping them from achieving their dreams
How to get from where they were to where they wanted to be.
Don't get me wrong. There are lots of great books on discovering your purpose and passions, and countless career counselors who are skilled at helping people identify their interests and skills. And they work for a lot of people. But not if you're stuck, like I once was, listening subconsciously (and consciously) to the voices inside your head.
I had no idea how I was going to do this when I started. But I felt called to it like nothing ever had before. So I signed up for an intensive 8 month training program. I learned how to help people identify the things that were holding them back. I learned how to help them figure out what they really wanted in their lives. And I learned how to help them set a path to get where they wanted to go.
I also got a coach for myself. And, wow, what a difference that makes.
So if you're questioning your career options and don't know where to turn, regardless of whether you're still in college or you've been working for years, let's have a conversation. I've been there. And perhaps I can help.