When Prince Harry announced he was leaving military service and admitted he was at a “crossroads”, it set me thinking that other people must often find themselves at their own crossroads too. You’ve done a particular job, or had a particular way of life, and then, for whatever reason, it comes to an end. It can knock you for six.
Less than four years ago, I was also at a crossroads too. The BBC was moving my department, Radio 5live, up to Salford. As a family, we decided it was not for us and I took voluntary redundancy. However, I had no idea what I would do next.
There had been a nagging doubt about staying at the Beeb which I had been ignoring and I thought now this might be the time to go and do something new. But what?
I knew I had certain things I did want to do: I wanted to take the kids to school and pick them up. I didn’t want them waking at the crack of dawn to be at the childminders for 8am, and not home until 6.30pm. I wanted to reduce my commuting and hopefully my stress.
What I hadn’t bargained for was quite how long it would take me to decide on the direction to move in once I’d left the BBC.
Initially, it was easy. I did some freelancing back at Auntie – quite a lot to start with. Which was good. “It’s important to keep my hand in”. I reasoned. But I still wasn’t happy.
I talked to my husband, my friends. I explored different ideas. Briefly I tried to sell up-market kitchen products. I didn’t enjoy it, but “It was important to find out what I didn’t want to do.” I reasoned.
So a two full years after leaving the BBC, I was still at my crossroads and unsure of which direction to go in. Two years! In the scheme of things, I guess it’s not that long, except think of the time I lost and possible income.
So, why did it take me so long? Well, like Prince Harry, I loved my job. I loved the work. I loved the people I came across. I loved my colleagues. So, how was I ever going to replace all that? Whatever I did had to still provide me with the fulfillment I was used to.
There is no easy answer, and I do wish I had the definitive one because then I’d bottle it, sell it and make my fortune.
I know how I’d have done it differently though.
I’d have got myself a coach. Why? Because it would have saved me two years of uncertainty. Two years of going round and round in circles boring my friends and family with “what should I do?”
If I’d known then how powerful coaching could be, I would have made that investment as early as possible.
I would have gone through that period of grieving for what I loved (the BBC), but with support from the coach. He/She would have helped me to identify what my values are (those things that are important to me and are non-negotiable), what ideas I had for what I could do and explore the things that were holding me back (my limiting beliefs). Then we would have worked out what I was going to do in order to achieve my goals.
A coach offers that ‘outside’ perspective which your friends and family can’t. A coach is non-judgmental, has no agenda and can ask you questions that you’re too scared to ask yourself. He/She (me!) can help you achieve that career change or whatever change you want to make.
Sitting at the crossroads doing nothing isn’t an option. It’s frustrating, depressing and boring. So make a move to find the right direction and take that important first step – call a coach.