Working It Out
A friend introduced me to Young Women's Trust and specifically Work It Out, a coaching service for young women aged 18- 30, provided through phone calls with a professional life coach at times that work for you – and all for free! It sounded good, so I put it off for three months then signed myself up. Procrastination, back then, was what I did best.
Before my first session, I felt under-prepared. I hadn't thought much about what I wanted to say, and I wasn't sure how much I'd lead the conversation or whether my life coach would take on the main speaking part. When I realised this was on me, I stumbled a bit, but then found myself talking about the career that, for a long time, I've wanted to have – to be a counsellor.
It felt good to say out loud what I really wanted to do. Like many people, I've spent a lot of my life following the advice of others, or living out their expectations. Teachers, family, friends, colleagues – even if their advice wasn't explicit, I would try my best to read into what they were saying and try to decode what I thought they thought I should do. Part of this was me not wanting to disappoint others, but another part was me feeling scared of taking ownership and making my own decisions. Living this way also gave me permission to feel sorry for myself when things weren't going to plan, because the decisions, I felt, had never been entirely mine.
Life coaching was a space where other people's advice and opinions got turned down, and what I wanted, and more importantly how I was going to get there, got turned up a notch each time. After each session, I felt that I had more purpose and drive. Friends and family saw this change in me too and I found that taking ownership and speaking with confidence meant that they accepted what I was doing and were less 'pushy' with their advice.
In between my sessions, I knuckled down and got stuff done. Instead of focusing on the reasons why I couldn't be a counsellor, I was properly researching, for the first time ever, the routes I could take to get into counselling. I got books on counselling and psychotherapy from the library, I found courses in my local area, I looked into volunteer opportunities and then got volunteering. Going along to my first voluntary shift catapulted me out of my comfort zone, but I came away on such a high and feeling more certain than ever that working with people in a counselling-style setting was what I wanted to do.
Talking to my life coach and hearing her repeating back to me what I had accomplished allowed me to really acknowledge my achievements, and feel proud of myself. My sessions coincided with a fairly rocky time in my life and life coaching provided an invaluable scaffolding to see me through. I was grateful for the routine, and the weekly calls gave me a tangible goal to work towards. I did worry that my motivation might fizzle out when my life coaching sessions ended, but I'm pleased to say that this has not happened. Turns out the productivity and drive is actually my own and not just the 'good life coaching student' in me.
Since finishing my sessions, I have completed a certificate in Children's and Young People's Mental Health, I'm taking a Introduction to Counselling Skills course and have been accepted onto a Therapeutic Mentoring course. I'm currently training to be a Listening Support worker for a local charity, and fitting in other volunteering when I can.
I would – and do! - recommend Work It Out to any young woman who feels they want to change something in their life, or has a career aspiration they want to work towards. I'm still pretty great at procrastinating (who isn't?!), but Work it Out Coaching has fine-tuned for me what I want in my life and given me the confidence to go after it - while I'm not there quite yet, I'm definitely working it out.
Find out more about Work It Out Coaching, our free service for women aged 18-30, by clicking here.