When I knew it was time to change career

I remember standing in front of the majestic Tower Bridge at dusk, as the three-thousandth runner of the event I’d project managed for the last year crossed the line. I took a deep breath, looked up to the sky, and smiled. I never had to do this shit again!

That was the moment I left my fifteen-year career in the event industry behind and stepped into my new life as a coach. I’ve never felt more exhilarated or free!

Those fifteen years took their toll, and despite leading a host of high-profile events, earning a decent living, and looking like a success on the outside, on the inside I had experienced chronic anxiety combined with periods of depression. I’d felt the need to put a mask on just about every day, pretending to my team members that I was excited about organising the next event with Prince Charles, or Sir Richard Branson. While these occasions sound glamorous (and are for those attending!), only event professionals know the months of painstaking attention to detail, blood, sweat and tears it takes to pull them off! For some people this is the dream job and perfectly suited to their personality, strengths and passions. But not for me.

It may surprise you to know that I look back on this period of my life without any regrets. I was simply doing what I thought I was meant to do: hold down a secure job and tough it out every day, and didn’t know another way. I’d heard of people that loved their jobs, but thought this was for the lucky few, and certainly not something I could consciously create for myself. However, that’s exactly what I did. Interestingly, the lessons I learnt through these challenging times actually served me in this process. I’d learnt my values – integrity, growth, family, meaning and excellence – often through the suffering that came with compromising them! Through my own study and research I had also learnt about my strengths and my passions, which were rarely utilised in my day-to-day work, and my element (where my strengths and passions combine).

Once I had clarity on my values and my element I knew it was time for a major life shift. I understood on a fundamental level that, unless I aligned my career around them, the suffering I was experiencing would only continue. Therefore, despite a mortgage, and two young children to support, with my wife’s amazing support, I completed my coaching qualifications, took the leap and set myself up as a coach. I have never looked back.

Where my days used to be filled with resistance, struggle and stress they’re now defined by contentment, fulfilment and flow. I had more positive feedback in the first year of being a coach than I’d had in the past decade, and was finally able to throw away the mask. I’ve also had chance meetings and synchronicities that have helped me on my way; not least being introduced to Elke at the formation stage of Ivy House, with whom I’m now privileged to be a coach.

I now have the opportunity to pass on the insights and tools that it took me fifteen years of struggle to realise, and to people much earlier in their journeys. While what makes a remarkable career is different for each of us, the tools to navigating there are the same. You need to understand your values (who you are), have clarity on your strengths (the things you’re naturally good at) and passions (the things you love to do), before living and working where these combine (your element). The result is an extraordinary life.

Last weekend I walked past Tower Bridge once again. The same smile came back to my face, this time from knowing that when you bring your life into alignment with who you really are everything has a way of working out just fine.

Stuck in a career rut? Find the right path for you in just two days.

By Steve Chamberlain, Performance Coach
11th March 2020

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