After the birth of my second child I took time out of the workforce to raise my children, and during this time my perspective altered. My day to day operation had changed from rising at 4am to run my business, methodically keeping records, pulling the occasional all-nighter and interacting constantly with clients and staff. Then I became a stay at home mum, and for three years the challenges were different to those I had faced in my working life – the hours were no better and there were definitely all-nighters involved, but there was nothing methodical in my day whatsoever. The communication with the staff, (whom it would seem were also my clients), was considerably more difficult than I had anticipated. My priorities had shifted.
Eventually, for many reasons, I made the decision to return to the workforce. My situation is not unique, but that does not make it any less daunting. When your business–as-usual includes mediating tantrums and negotiating dinner contents, it is overwhelming to picture yourself taking that very first step into the working world which you have removed yourself from. I had nothing resembling a resume, and in fact had no idea where to even begin a job search. I searched the local papers and looked through online job boards, but finding my new career was a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
And this is where Melinda Black found me. Melinda is a qualified and accredited coach who specialises in career and executive coaching for women. While remaining professional in the delivery of the service, her manner was warm and welcoming. The sessions were well structured – they always began with an idea of what I thought I wanted to achieve and ended with a specific goal and a clear path for how to get there. This meant I was able to optimise each hour I spent with Melinda and get the most out of our time together. And most of all, I looked forward to our fortnightly sessions because I knew when they finished I would feel as if I was in control of my own destiny – which, of course, I am. It is a comforting feeling.
Our first session began with a simple premise – I wanted a job to earn a bit of extra cash and to find a new direction. By the time the next session arrived, I had it, but I found myself wanting more. At the end of the fifth session I had determined which career I wanted to forge for myself and had three clear but distinct goals for the coming year. Better still, I had a strategy and an extensive plan which I will use to implement it. What happened in between? Well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But I’ll give you a few hints.
The five sessions I had with Melinda afforded me three things which I did not have when I first decided to go back to work. These were;
- Confidence – I was reminded of my own capabilities, and had the assuredness to go out after a new job and a new career. In some instances, that confidence stemmed from just understanding what to research and where to begin. Knowing what that first pivotal step was allowed me to visualise the many steps beyond, and create the big picture.
- Clarity – I was able to see things with an uncomplicated lens. Many of Melinda’s processes used knowledge I already had but didn’t know how to use. One of her many talents was to frame information in a new way which allowed me to implement real changes. She put verbs into my sentences. Seeing my path clearly allowed me to create a construct from my own skills and qualities.
- Crystalisation – Once I knew the starting point and could envisage my path, I was able to give definition to each step along the way.
I’m just at the beginning of a burgeoning new career and I have begun to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Whether I succeed or not is largely up to me now, but my experience with Melinda certainly gave me the tools I need to get there, and I would highly recommend Melinda and coaching in general for anyone looking to change an aspect of their life.
A version of this article appeared on North Shore Mums, (www.northshoremums.com.au)