Career Woman: Coaching to Integrate Personal Life With A Successful Career
This professional was seen during two separate engagements for assistance through career transitions that blend with personal life needs.
As a highly sought after leadership trainer, this single, female professional about to turn 40, wanted to integrate marriage and family into her thriving career focus. She had enjoyed a long, successful career within a training company. Rising through the ranks with expertise across both management and instructional design/writing/training capabilities, she no longer enjoyed management roles and she wanted time to pursue marriage and family.
She sought help to strategize the changes necessary to achieve those goals. She knew exactly the outcome she wanted; she just didn’t know how to get there.
In five sessions over a period of 2 ½ months, our assessment of the client’s situation revealed these key points:
- She was valuable to her clients and the company, and she enjoyed her work when she worked reasonable hours and focused on her specialty, training.
- She was willing to make financial sacrifices to integrate her life and relationship goals. Analyzing her finances revealed that if she tightened her belt, she could work as a trainer two or three days per month and maintain a healthy lifestyle, giving her more time to explore ways to integrate her other life needs without giving up her career.
Action Steps Strategized
To achieve a scaled-back work schedule and begin focusing more on her personal life, we strategized these steps which she implemented over a period of six months.
- Work ⎯ Negotiate with her company to shift her role in a way that would benefit the company and her, in a reasonable time frame.
- Budget ⎯ Shift her lifestyle in many small ways to match the new limited budget targets we established for this transition. This included things such as reducing household expenses, negotiating rent paid by her tenant and exchanging labor to care for her home.
- Social life ⎯ Explore ways to optimize her enjoyment of her social life, new activities and begin dating in a way that fit her personality and outcome desires for a committed relationship and family.
- Relationship ⎯ Consider traveling or moving to a different city to meet a life partner. Revisit values and qualities necessary in a mate.
- Work ⎯ Within a few months, she negotiated changes in her position to maximize her benefit to the company ⎯ her training capability ⎯ while shifting out of management and administration. She was able to conduct training gigs an average of two to four days per month. Because of her stellar work history, she requested and got the best training jobs ⎯ those in which she worked with her favorite co-trainer for the companies that really needed it and were the most responsive. This negotiation occurred during a time when the partner owners were negotiating the sale of the company, so everyone worked closely together to optimize the outcomes for everyone.
- Budget ⎯ She quickly made budgetary and downsizing shifts that were relatively painless given her priorities and lifestyle.
- Social life ⎯Continuing a robust and satisfying social life, she prioritized travel to other locations to explore while spending time with family and friends outstate. She focused the remainder of her extra time on her goal of exploring new activities, instead of filling up her time with meaningless “stuff.”
- Relationship ⎯ This client chose the online dating route. She wrote a very clear profile that outlined her values and described what she was looking for⎯focusing on marriage and a family. Many of her initial responses were from around the country. She decided it was best to meet someone local, so she narrowed her focus.
Accountability and Progress Check-Ins
Throughout the next 1 ½ – 2 year period client touched base through an accountability and progress check-in. Work continued to be satisfying in her new mode of 2-5 days per month. Her budget and lifestyle were successfully maintained. The most challenging aspect was a feeling of “kissing a lot of frogs,” on her way to meeting an appropriate mate, but she remained steadfast to her goal.
Then out-of-the-blue she called and reported having met him! A mature corporate professional from another culture, divorced with an amicable ex and 2 young teenagers she adored. Most importantly they were each looking for exactly the same things in work and life!
Not long after she contacted me to say they were getting married.
And then came an adopted baby boy. They have a multiethnic, multicultural, blended family. She got everything she wanted. A great career, a great mate and family life.
I didn’t hear from the client for about 2 years and then she requested my assistance in making another career shift.
As a single person this client’s budget was satisfactory, but then she and her husband decided that full-time for both of them was important to raise the family. Her training company had again been purchased, this time by an international recruiting company that expanded its reach into leadership training. Her skills were invaluable, and she negotiated a role that was fine for a while, although it included regular out-of-state travel for two to three days at a time. She felt like she was missing huge chunks of her young son’s development. Everyone in the family was doing OK, but she did not feel totally satisfied. She wanted to be home with her family every evening.
She wanted to make a job change and thought she would need to look outside the company. I felt that she might be downplaying the amount of effort a new position would require, even if it was a straightforward management role. I believe in looking creatively at all your options and not assuming that negotiations within your current company are impossible. With that mind-set, I encouraged her to think about negotiating a role within the company that may lead to greater satisfaction. My advice is, f that doesn’t work out, then it’s time to look for a position in another company.
Action Steps Strategized
The client was skeptical about my approach but agreed to a two-tier strategy:
- Within Her Current Company, Requesting a travel-free role ⎯ I encouraged her to reach out to her superiors to express her needs and discuss if and how they could redefine her position in a way that required little to no travel but still met the company’s needs.
- Explore Outside the Company⎯She was to brainstorm a list of connections in companies she was interested in working for. She did not have a specific role in mind but with her fall-back on management and leadership positions for many years, she felt like she had a lot to offer.
- Networking⎯She was to choose the top people to begin having conversations with about her interests and to gain their feedback about her skills and where she might fit in their company or through their connections.
Unanticipated by my client, her superiors enthusiastically reworked her work role, responsibilities and schedule to accommodate her desire to be home with her family in the evenings. She was able to maintain her full-time position without having to accept a reduced salary.
This client was able to achieve all her personal and professional goals:
- She met and married an intriguing, worldly, family-oriented man with stability and a corporate background.
- She became a mom.
- She re-engineered her career along the way to meet both her career and her personal goals—bringing value to her company each time with a willingness to match her talents and contributions in a way that accommodated her personal lifestyle needs.