Why I Decided to Go Back to Work

What to do when the path you're on isn't leading you in the right direction.

What to do when the path you're on isn't leading you in the right direction.

A few months ago, I made this big hoopla about leaving my corporate job to pursue coaching full time.  It felt like a huge win for me – I’d been unhappy in my most recent role for a while.  I didn’t connect with my manager, I was underutilized and undervalued, and I was disconnected from my work. 

Pursuing my passion was an immediate upgrade.

But a few months in, I was totally drained, stressed, and not really enjoying myself.

Sure, I love my coaching clients and the support I’m able to give them – watching the transformation I’m able to help women achieve in just 6 weeks together is incredibly satisfying, but there was a piece of me that was feeling unfulfilled.

At just the right time, a perfect opportunity was literally dropped in my lap, but I wavered about whether to take it.  I though I'd be judged by my coaching circle and it felt like a failure for me - like I was giving up on a dream.

Here are the 5 things that helped me move past the fear of judgement, admit that something needed to change, and make the transition back to the corporate world.

1.       Acknowledging What’s Not Working

One of the things I’m really proud of having cultivated for the last few years is a deep sense of self-awareness. 

After I left my job, the thing I heard consistently from my entrepreneurial and coaching circles was “Now you really have to push with your coaching.”  This was said to be encouraging and motivating – lots of people prosper under the stress of a deadline or an impending bill.  Turns out I’m not one of those people. 

I found the stress of living up to my high expectations and the lack of a consistent paycheck debilitating.  It literally would stop me in my tracks some days and I’d be left staring at the ceiling, wondering why on earth I hadn’t produced anything of value that day. 

None of this felt GOOD.  My coaching business – my passion project and what I consider to be one of my true life callings – felt wrong.  Something had to change.

It was only after I started to take the pressure off that things started to flow.  That’s when all the right clients started finding me. 

2.       Identifying My Core Values and Priorities

One of my strongest values is freedom and having a freedom lifestyle is a huge priority for me. 

What does that mean?  To me, a freedom lifestyle means I’m in control – not just of my future, but also in my day-to-day.  When I think of roles that excite me, the ones where I’m viewed as a professional and given the opportunity to dictate my schedule and to succeed on my own time and effort (not chained to a desk for 40 hours) are the ones that speak most to me.  These types of roles help me push my creative boundaries, instead of feeling stagnant. 

It just so happens that the opportunity before me presented exactly that.

3.       Knowing My Strengths

As Marie Forleo so eloquently puts it, I’m multi-passionate – there are a handful of fairly diverse things that I really love to do.  Working with women one-on-one or in groups to move their lives forward is obviously one of them. 

But, I’m also the quintessential engineer.  I LOVE talking about all things process and efficiency and playing with data and spreadsheets.  And I just wasn’t getting that from my coaching business.  It was like there was a whole side of me that was being neglected and I wanted to bring that side to the forefront, too.    

4.       Following My Intuition

“Many important decisions are not arrived at by linear reasoning, but by intuition.”

When I was going through the decision making process, I had some deep conversations with my husband and some close friends.  I was often asked, “Are you sure this is what you want?  I thought you were unhappy in your previous role?  I thought you wanted to escape the corporate world?”

All of that was true, I WAS unhappy in my previous role and I DID want to escape, but that was about the environment and the circumstance, not about being in a corporate environment. 

All I knew was that this FELT right, for reasons I can’t really articulate or explain.  My gut was telling me to go for it, and so I did.

5.       You Can ALWAYS Change Direction

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned along my path, it’s that we’re never confined to a particular path.  

“Ladders are limiting – people can move up or down, on or off.  Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration.  There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym… The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours, and even dead ends present a better chance for fulfillment.” (Lean In, pg. 55)

In truth, I’ve learned way more from my job hopping than any one job could teach me in even double the time.  I’ve experienced several different industries (environmental consulting, public education, public works, and information technology) – I’ve learned the ins and out of each one and I have a better understanding of the pitfalls and demands placed on working women. 

 

Now, I want to hear from you, how do you course-correct when you realize that what you thought you wanted might not be what you need?