CASE STUDY: Mark - Professional wanting to change career
Mark* is a 48-year-old man with a wife and two children. He is the sole breadwinner and has the full responsibility of the family income on his shoulders. He sought career coaching because he felt trapped and wanted to find a more meaningful and rewarding role, without a decrease in his earnings.
This is his story when we first started working together.
Mark worked for a large corporate in the City and had been commuting from his hometown for the past 20 years. He had worked hard all his life and had created a lovely home and life for himself, his wife and his children, aged 13 and 15. His wife worked part time for a local charity, but her earnings were minimal.
Although Mark had built up a successful career, he had noticed that his heart wasn’t really in it anymore. He found the politics, constant cost cuttings and lack of values within his organisation draining, and he was weary of feeling like he was on a hamster wheel that he just couldn’t seem to jump off.
He had started to wonder if there was more to life than working long hours from Monday to Friday, and then spending the weekends ferrying his children from one activity to another. Although he encouraged his children to play team sports and believed it was important for them to have active lives, he did secretly resent the fact that a lot of his spare time was so regimentally scheduled. He longed for more spontaneity, freedom and time for himself.
He did sometimes manage to get to the gym once or twice a week before work, but often he missed it because he was away travelling for work, or he had extra work to prepare, and so forfeited his workout to get it done.
He was really feeling the pressures of work as well as the financial burden of their lifestyle, with both children in private school, a mortgage, ski holidays and a summer vacation somewhere hot and sunny every year. It seemed impossible to throw it all in and give up everything he had worked so hard for - and enjoyed.
He had started to fantasise about doing something more meaningful, rewarding and enjoyable, but didn’t know what this might be, and was also worried that it wouldn’t pay well, which meant giving up all the luxuries the whole family benefited from. Ideally, he wanted to find his purpose in life, but felt that the costs of doing this were too high.
When he talked about this to his wife, she was understanding but was justifiably concerned about the children’s schooling and giving up what they already had.
He used to play squash in a league, which he had loved, but had given it up, partly because he kept missing games because of work commitments, and partly because his knees had started playing up. He had thought about trying to find some kind of new hobby or activity he could do, however, there never seemed to be any spare time anymore. He didn’t get home from work until 7.30pm, and by the time he had had dinner, spent some time with the kids, chatted to his wife and checked his emails, he was tired and all he wanted to do was sit in front of the TV for a while before going to bed.
Despite his wonderful life from the outside looking in, from the inside he felt trapped and weighed down by the burden of all the family’s financial commitments. He was yearning to leave it all behind and do something meaningful and rewarding but felt that this was selfish and unfair on his family. He felt like he was selling his soul to keep the status quo. He was constantly asking himself, “Is this it? Surely there’s more to life than this?”. He realised he was going through the motions, feeling uninspired and also resentful.
He decided he needed some help in figuring out how to get out of the hole he was in and make some changes in his career and / or life in order to get his mojo back.
Mark and I worked together for a series of six coaching sessions. This is his story six months later in his own words.
When I contacted Marie, I was skeptical and doubtful that coaching would work. It was only because a friend of mine had recommended her, that I decided to give it a go. (I am now incredibly grateful to that friend!).
I was feeling completely trapped and couldn’t see a way out of my predicament. I was at an all-time low, but was feeling guilty for feeling that way, especially when on the surface, life looked good; a successful career, a lovely family, nice holidays, a great home, etc. However, inside I was feeling resentful, dissatisfied and worn out. I felt like something was missing in my life and that I had no real purpose, other than to be the family breadwinner. Even though that is an important role, it didn’t feel enough, and at the same time it felt stifling.
Marie was so helpful. Despite my skepticism, she encouraged me to have an open mind and compassionately guided me through her coaching process with great skill and ease. I learnt things about myself that I had never even considered before and gained so many valuable insights that enabled me to start seeing things in a different light. Bit by bit I started to see light at the end of the tunnel, and gradually noticed that I was feeling lighter and was beginning to feel excited about life again.
Marie helped me to gain a more powerful mindset, which enabled me to ditch the victim mentality I had adopted and allowed me to be in the driving seat of my life and career once again. This felt amazing! Once we had worked out who I am and what I had to offer (which was a really interesting and useful process), we were able to start playing around with different ideas for my career plan, as well as making small but significant changes to my day to day life, which made all the difference to my overall happiness and well-being. This also had a big impact on my family as they benefitted from the change in me too.
I am still technically in the same role, but together with my boss have made some changes so that I am doing more of what I love, and I have set boundaries so that I have a much better work-life balance. This means I now get time for myself to do the things I enjoy outside of work, without it impacting on my family commitments. Although my values don’t align with the organisation’s and the politics are still there, this doesn’t bother me as much because I have a different mindset than I did. And I know that I will be moving on in the near future.
I have made a decision to stay in the City for the next five years, but to move to a new role that motivates me and aligns more with my strengths and to work within an organisation where the culture is a more suitable fit with my personality and values. Marie has also helped me to create a clear plan in order to achieve this goal.
In five years’ from now, I have agreed with my wife that I will move into a role that may pay less, but that I find more rewarding and meaningful. We are planning our finances so that we can make that happen. Given the children are now teenagers, my wife has expressed interest in re-training and going back to work to a role where she can also contribute financially, which will take some of the pressure off me.
During the coaching sessions, we identified three possible ideas for a potential career change in five years’ time, which will satisfy my need to do something with purpose. I am beginning to explore these options and am considering doing some unpaid work in one of these fields to find out more and to gain useful contacts. My aim is to be in a position to transition into one of these fields with relative ease and at a decent level, having done the groundwork over the next five years to ensure that can happen. Just knowing I am working towards this keeps me feeling motivated and inspired.
I am so glad I overcame my scepticism and sought coaching with Marie. I no longer feel stressed, trapped and resentful. Even though there are still some aspects of my existing role and organisation that irk me, they don’t bother me much because I have confidence that I will find a new role in the near future. I have formed some good relationships with a number of Executive Search firms and there are a few roles of interest on the horizon, as well as an interview coming up, for which Marie is going to provide me with interview coaching.
I highly recommend anyone feeling the way I did to seek coaching with Marie. It was worth every penny and excellent value for money. You can’t put a price on happiness.
*Name changed to protect identity