This week’s career change story is from Emily Thorpe who spent 23 years (WOW!) as an Air Traffic Controller and is now setting herself up as a full-time coach and speaker at Happy Working Mum. I’m extra excited about this Career Change story because I’m interviewing Emily next January for the return of The Confident Mother virtual conference, when we’ll be discussing How to Ditch the Mummy Guilt.
This is one of series of guest posts designed to inspire mums thinking about a career change. To find all the stories use Career Change Story in the Categories drop-down.
If you have a career change story to share, click here to contact me. I am always delighted to receive guest posts on this subject. Maximum 800 words.
Over to Emily
Hello, my name is Emily Thorpe, I’m a mum of 2 boys and I’ve been an Air Traffic Controller for 23 years and on 23 September 2015 I gave up my ATC career for good to become a full-time coach and speaker. I know that many mums have a similar desire to try something new; it can be a daunting process, not knowing where to begin and what to do, so I’d like to share my 6 top tips for a smooth transition.
1. Don’t be surprised!
Having a baby can act as a catalyst for change. It happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to several of my friends and many of the mums I work with. You’re pootling along in your career/job, then you have this life changing experience – aka ‘a baby’ – and all of a sudden you’re seeing things in a different light and your chosen occupation doesn’t do it for you any more.
It could be that it doesn’t fit practically with your new responsibilities. It could be that your priorities have changed but it could also be that in creating this tiny perfect human being, your creative juices have been unleashed. Initially I thought it was my hormones running amok but as the weeks turned into months I knew I needed a change in direction. Time for step 2.
2. Take time to work out what you want with your life
To begin with I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I just knew that it wasn’t ATC. I became a detective. I started to write lists of things I liked doing, things I liked talking about and things that interested me. I attended entrepreneurial boot camps with 10 or more speakers talking about different ventures; investing in property, selling on eBay, investing in the stock market and creating online information products to name a few. Keep an open mind … you never know when inspiration may arrive. One day I received a brochure through the post about becoming a life coach. As I read the desirable qualities of a coach, I knew I had found my new career.
3. Get clarity
I completed my course over the next 8 months, which was a combination of home study and telephone coaching. The more I did, the more certain I became that I was on the right path. I was still tentative about voicing my vision which was a bit fuzzy. In order to move forward you need clarity and the quickest way to gain clarity is to answer questions. Start telling close friends what you want to do. They will ask you questions or ask you to explain how you will achieve your goal. Any holes in your plan will appear and your ideas will become more solid, like roots burying into the soil, your vision will gain strength.
Look at people already successful in the area you want to move to and see how they run their business/ career. Ask yourself lots of questions like; How many days a week do I want to work? How many hours? Do I want to commute? Can I work from home? Do I want to be part of a team? Do I want to be a leader? How much do I need to earn? How can I create that amount each month?
When you know where you’re going, you can get there much quicker!
4. Start in tandem
Starting your own business is considered to be one of the greatest self-development courses and a lot of ‘stuff’ can come up. Worthiness issues, doubt, fear of failure, feeling a fraud to name a few. I had fears about leaving the security of a regular salary for the unknown life of being self-employed. Luckily I was able to build up my experience and confidence, by coaching friends and then ladies I met networking, whilst I was still on a salary. This is a great way to test the water and discover if your new career is one you love. Don’t ever be ashamed of working at a dull job to cover the bills whilst you’re pursuing your dream. If you are relying on your dream to pay your bills, it puts excessive pressure on you when you are feeling your way into this new venture.
5. Act as if
You know the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ well I like to use the phrase ‘If I was …. What would I do now?’ This works in all sorts of situations because you do know the answer; you just have to raise your awareness. Imagine if your goal was to be healthy and you were at a buffet table with fresh fruit or pastries. Just by asking the question ‘If I was a health conscious person, what would I choose?’ you would know which to choose!
Start by imagining yourself already in possession of your dream job or business then start acting ‘as if’ it were true.
I used to practice saying what I did, starting with a mirror, so that I felt comfortable telling strangers. For example; “I’m a coach for working mums. I help them to get rid of the stress and mummy guilt for good and focus on enjoying being a mum, making their lives easy and fun.” If you keep acting ‘as if’ your subconscious will buy into it and it will soon become your reality.
6. Have faith
Do you remember learning to ride a bike? What happened in that second between not being able to ride a bike and then being able to? A mindset shift – you believed you could. As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”.
There were times when the doubt would creep in but I kept my faith, sometimes you just have to bet on your own horse!
Here are two techniques that I found helpful: firstly a Success Journal. Recording your triumphs, even the mini ones, will help you to see how far you have come and how much further you can go. Secondly I maintain a Gratitude Practice, taking time to appreciate all that you have puts you in the right frame of mind for new opportunities to come in.
Finally I would recommend a coach or mentor. Many a time I have been inspired by the faith that my coach has in me and wanted to progress just to prove her faith was well placed.
I wish you every success in the world x
If you enjoyed Emily’s story, visit her Facebook page and let her know.