Hundreds of times a year, my clients and course members share that, while they know exactly what they don’t want in their lives and work, they just can’t pinpoint what they do want. They know they’re fed up with toxic bosses, crushingly demanding schedules, meaningless and empty work, and using skills they hate to employ, but they still struggle with how to change what they hate.
I was in this exact same position in 2001 – in a corporate role I disliked intensely, with colleagues who were constantly at each other’s throats, in a toxic environment that was damaging for almost everyone. The problem was – at age 41 – I asked myself every day “What can I do that is substantially different and better without losing my income and benefits, and without starting over completely?” I couldn’t figure it out, so I did nothing, and kept getting more sick, depressed and demoralized.
The answer to that question came not after a thorough exploration of possible career directions, but in one fateful conversation with a powerful therapist I was seeing at the time. After my brutal corporate layoff in the days following 9/11, I was in his office crying about my situation, and he said this:
“Kathy, I know from where you sit, this is the worst crisis you’ve ever faced. But from where I sit, it’s the first moment you can actually choose who you want to be in your life. Now…who do you want to be?
From that one powerful, probing question, everything changed forever for me. I realized in that one pivotal moment that I deeply longed (and in fact, always had wanted) to help people thrive and grow. I longed to be a positive force in the world, not hurt people and be hurt every day as I had been in my corporate life.
It became crystal clear then that I was ready for a completely new direction that would allow me to learn how to facilitate my own development and that of others, and use that new knowledge every day in a new career. So I did it. I got moving. Finally, the motivation to make this change was unstoppable, and I was ready to do anything and everything what was required. I earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, trained as a coach, and launched a business providing both those services. And I’ve never looked back.