Leena Johnson, a professional in financial services, is undergoing our career change programme, Find Your New Direction.
Read on to learn about her coaching journey in her own words.
Asking for help – finally
I remember seriously googling ‘career coaches’ in December 2018 when I was in despair.
Five years ago I fought to be accepted into business school, got a summer internship, did the gruelling hours and secured a job at a well-known investment bank. I was so proud at the time. The job enabled me to do loads, but five years on, I had to accept it wasn’t the right environment for me. I was crying, angry and stuck and on my way to burning out. I knew I needed to get out. But how? Where to? Also given by other people’s standards I had a “good job” in a “good bank”. Was it even legitimate to think I should leave?
Ten Google searches later, I found Ros’ website and it caught my eye. It seemed genuine, clear and unpretentious. I scheduled a career review call and during our 45-minute chat I opened up to her. I felt like she understood me; the way she described what I was going through was spot on. She was the fit I was looking for.
Understanding why I am unhappy
The first three sessions were intense. I was vulnerable, on edge because of work. But despite the overwhelm I committed to the coaching and completed the assignments Ros set between sessions. During our coaching meetings I realised that I was not wrong to want to leave. I was in a job which (no matter how much I believed I could smash it) simply didn’t play to my strengths and drained my energy.
We created a map or framework of who I am professionally and personally. I noticed the disconnect between being a morning person and being in a job where I start very early, longing to be close to friends and family who are abroad not in London – and which doesn’t feed my passion for personal development.
What we did and what I learned
It’s very difficult to summarise everything I learned but I will give it my best shot. Ros walked me through everything: I completed various exercises which she de-briefed with me. Through a dialogue she detected what really mattered out of all my rambling. This map of what matters in my career and life that we created together really makes sense to me and I understood that the first step to changing direction is to allow myself to allow myself to pursue what felt energising and to let go of guilt.
We created a long list of alternative career ideas and projects and ran it through the career and life map to see what sticks and I began my research (“due diligence”) to see if the ideas would be viable for me. I narrowed these down and choose a main direction I was excited about, with a couple of writing projects on the side.
Ros listened intently and with compassion, and because she was understanding of what I was going through, I became empowered to give it a shot and to show some compassion towards myself. I learned that berating yourself isn’t helpful.
She also showed me how to use visualisation to train my brain to bridge the gap between my current reality and what I am working towards.
One coaching session to go
I am about to complete my final session with Ros in which we will finalise my job search plan for my stepping-stone role.
Before working with a career coach, I wasn’t sure I could aspire to something better: it’s easy to get stuck in a place of fear, and in fear you cannot work out other options. Working with Ros has helped me get rid of that unrealistic fear and move forward.
I am convinced that understanding and accepting what your professional self is about is extremely valuable. You don’t waste time chasing opportunities that were not meant for you, and you can focus on stepping-stone opportunities which will help you get the skills or the network that will help you towards your long term goal.
Through coaching, I have a map that I can use to guide my decisions. I found most of the answers I needed and feel confident that the plan I have laid out not only can be achieved but makes sense for me. It was worth every penny. I would do it all over again and earlier had I known how helpful it would be. You get so much more for your money than what you put in.
I am sure I will be working with a career coach again at a later date, as I continue to upgrade my life.
Do you work in financial services and feel a disconnect between the work you do and who you? Ask for a career review consultation to explore your current situation and what you really want, and see if this, or one of our other programmes would be right for you.