I never knew what I wanted to do for a career, the only careers advice at school (the first computer analysis of personality types) suggested I should be a fish farmer or forester! However, in the early 1980s, the age of big hair, it was generally accepted that girls would go into hairdressing, nursing or secretarial work. So I enrolled in secretarial college then fell into a 15 year career in the IT industry. I was very successful, at times earning a six figure salary, but it wasn’t me, I felt ‘owned’ by the company I was working for, I worked long hours and even longer weeks. I always felt like I was competing with my colleagues (at the time IT was a very male dominated industry) and I would never admit I was struggling or ask for help, I believed that would be showing weakness. It never felt right and it seemed like every time I was at my most successful, I sabotaged myself, handed in my notice and started again with a different company doing the same thing over and over again. Eventually, in 2002 I crashed and burned, was signed off long term sick with stress and advised by the company doctor that I needed anti-depressants!
Ever felt like running away from everything? Well, that’s what I did, I ran off to Nepal with the deliberate intention of having no agenda and no timeframe. There I became involved with a charity that was helping women who had been trafficked to train in employable skills and ended up starting an import and distribution business to sell the goods they were making. Again, I was successful and in 2008 I had a busy company and network of UK wide party plan agents, but how had I got there? Working harder and harder, my life was my work, I didn’t have much else outside it to be honest, it took all my time and when I wasn’t at work, I was too exhausted to do anything else. At its height, the old patterns of behaviour returned, the self sabotage started and, you’ll never guess what – I returned to the IT Industry! Would I never learn?!
Well I did learn, after crashing out of the IT industry a second time, I had a light bulb moment, I realised that woven throughout my career had been a trainer, mentor and teacher, it was something I did instinctively without realising and was really good at it. Even as a foster carer for teenagers I saw my role as a mentor, not a parent and it worked. So I retrained as a Solution Focused hypnotherapist; helping people to find the tools they needed within themselves and changing the old beliefs which were limiting them. I also understood where I had been repeating patterns of behaviour – to start with I had energy and fight and I could hold my own in meetings, wasn’t afraid to speak my mind and usually found a way of getting what I wanted, but I didn’t like being pushy, so instead I adopted a strategy of turning my back on confrontations and when my job started to get boring because I couldn’t be bothered with the fight to take it to the next level or break through a barrier, I would walk away. I saw it as a choice, fight or walk away, but I could only get so far with this strategy and I realised there must be a different way, but I didn’t know what that was, so when I reached the point where the self sabotage normally kicked in, I did something different – I invested in a high end Coach, it was time to invest in me.
Why hadn’t I thought of it before? My clients were paying me to help them resolve issues or make changes in their lives and I was very good at it, but it didn’t occur to me that I needed to invest in myself and find someone who could help me do for myself what I did for other people.
I realised the power of investing in a high end coach who helped me learn how to take the next step up instead of finding a new stairs to climb.
Why does it matter? We don’t know what we don’t know or we come to the realisation that we don’t know. When we learn, we go through a process: –
1. unconscious incompetence
2. conscious incompetence
3. unconscious competence and then finally,
4. conscious competence – Success.
When you work for an organisation, they will invest in training which is useful for the company and might help solve an organisational problem, but when it comes to ourselves, we often know something isn’t right, but we don’t know what and we get stuck in conscious incompetence. Or even more damaging, we develop belief systems of ‘we can’t do that’ or ‘that’s what I’m like’ or ‘I always’ we just think and believe that it’s just how we are. You’ve heard the saying “I think therefore I am” – it’s actually a saying by French philosopher Rene Descartes, but has been much misinterpreted, but if you take it literally, surely if you can change how you think, then how you see yourself being will change. That’s we need to invest in ourselves, learn to think in a different way and break the self sabotaging patterns of behaviour or thought patterns limiting our potential.
We all need someone to support us, we all need help and sometimes it isn’t our partners, friends or family who can help; the best person is someone who can challenge us, push us along and encourage us to challenge ourselves.
And, we need to find a balance in life, we need to find the things we enjoy as well as feeling fulfilled in our careers – and only we can do that.
I now fit work around my life and every day is a joy in discovering new things I would like to do, meeting inspiring new people and embracing life.
A couple of years ago I had a tattoo on my wrist, it says “Memento Vivere” which means ‘Remember to Live’. It’s too easy to just exist day to day, going through the motions: From time to time we need a reminder that life is for living and life is supposed to be fun and it can be easy.
That’s what I will help you learn how to do, if you want to.