I enjoyed my teaching career. It had its ups and downs and imposter syndrome seemed to be an ever-present ‘friend’ but looking back I can put my hand on my heart and say entering the teaching profession was a good decision for me. I feel I’ve made a difference in a number of ways, sometimes by accident, sometimes through sheer hard work and once or twice through a stroke of genius. I am pleased about all of that.
Five years ago, when retirement beckoned, I decided to train as a life coach. Coaching was a career I’d been drawn to (it all started in 2005 when I read a book by Po Bronson) and as I undertook several different trainings and began building my coaching business I knew I’d found the round hole and for my round peg (or as Ken Robinson says ‘my element’).
“Your niche will find you” one of my coaching mentors exclaimed on my very first training day back in 2016. “Oh yeah?” I thought and off I went into the wilderness of thought hoping I’d recognise my niche when it came calling. Fast forward a few years and I was challenged by another mentor to reflect on the clients I’d worked with over the last few years. Where did they come from? What did they have in common? What made them ‘my people’?
Talk about light bulb moments. Unsurprisingly, virtually all my clients were, or had been, teachers. After nearly forty years in the profession my networks were all in or around the education-sector, so it was pretty obvious really. Underpinning most of the problems my clients wanted to solve, or goals they wanted to achieve, was the search ‘out there in the world’ for wellbeing, which can be exhausting. There’s good news about this search, but more about this another time.
The next discovery was that nearly every client I had worked with felt their work (their teaching career) was taking away their wellbeing. They were torn between staying in teaching or leaving. And if they left, what would they do? And so it began. My niche had found me…
These days, as a full-time professional coach, it won’t surprise you to hear that a great deal of my work is supporting teachers with career decisions and wellbeing issues. I help them as they tackle problems and challenges around career-satisfaction, career-progression and career-change. Career-change is the area in most demand, so I’ve developed a coaching programme taking the individual from deciding whether to stay in the profession or to leave, to identifying their strengths and exploring their options, to researching and applying for jobs, to rediscovering their wellbeing and their love of life.
My passion is helping teachers to thrive, either in the role they trained for, or by supporting them as they look for a way to apply their talent and passion in a career beyond teaching. Either way I help them to find the sense of purpose and peace of mind they are seeking.
Bronson, P. (2004) What should I do with my life? Vintage.
Robinson, K. (2009) The Element. Penguin.
Photo credit: Noah Silliman on Unsplash