It was sixteen years ago that I officially and legally registered my business. Full disclosure: I was still working at Hewitt and (in my own version of how integrity works) felt I could not in good conscience start coaching people on the side for money unless I had a legit business. Nowadays a side hustle is so common that you wouldn’t think twice about it.
At the time, my company Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt) had experienced rounds of layoffs, and each time a partner would visit from another office, we all knew the axe was falling again.
Many who were severed did not want to be let go. And I, who had secretly wanted to be offered a package, was still there waiting and wondering about my fate. It all felt so backwards.
The stress of work and being spiritually disengaged in my job had physically made me sick, though I did not fully realize the powerful mind-body connection at the time. I had so many medical problems, that I had negotiated an AWP (alternative work pattern), working a full time schedule across four days instead of five.
I used my extra day each week for doctor visits and also time to breathe and explore what was next for me. I had already been trained as a coach and started to coach a couple colleagues and friends. And that was how I came to start my business on the side.
Sweet 16, baby! Sixteen years in business. Wow!
I talk with so many, many execs who are struggling with the question of whether to make a change in their career. They are afraid of walking away from a good company (been there) with good colleagues (been there) and good money (been there) and unvested stock options (been there). They are worried about what others might think if they walk away from a “good thing” (been there), and are afraid to listen to their heart (been there). But they are also suffering with trying to keep up at work when their heart and soul are not aligned with their work.
But for those who do make a career change (like I did), oh my, the world opens up! Another of my former colleagues who finally cut off the golden handcuffs like I did agrees with me: “Why did I wait so long? I was frozen with fear and worried about what others would think. Now, though, I can’t imagine going back to what I did before. I feel so free!”
If you’re considering making a move or reinventing your career focus, I don’t recommend quitting outright unless you have enough financial security to sustain you 12-18 months. When I resigned my position at Hewitt, we (Matt and I) thought he would be done with his PhD in a few months, but instead it took another academic year. Financially, it was really tight for awhile, but I also realized how quickly I could build a coaching practice when I had no other choice: we needed the money for rent and food – and that is one heck of a motivator!
I’ve come to know that the clients who get the greatest benefit from my approach are either still in their current roles with time to benefit from my Executive Career ReinventionTM program, or have only recently left their position and have the financial cushion to take the time to clarify what’s best for them while leveraging their network to find or create a next role.
I have certainly had ups and downs these past 16 years. But, I have never regretted listening to my heart and believing in my myself enough to take the reins and move forward on my path. I know now that I was moving in the direction of my dharma (my purpose), which is why I have all my clients first learn their purpose before completing the remaining steps in my Exec Career ReinventionTM process.
Thank you for being a part of my journey these past 16 years (or more if we go back even further).
Here’s to celebrating Sweet 16!
Erin Owen, MBA, PCC, JCTC
Executive Career Reinvention
To start your Executive Career ReinventionTM program, apply for an initial call with me here.
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Working with private clients in the Executive Career ReinventionTM program, providing executive coaching to mid-level and senior-level executives who work for for-profit, NGO, academic, and private organizations, coaching women leaders at the University of Cincinnati, and also coaching MBA and Exec MBA students at Wharton.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]