Sometimes a crisis forces you to look hard at life, including where you are in your career.
A life crisis can be unexpected. Cancer can hit. An accident can put you out of commission. Stress, exhaustion and burnout can cause collapse. A new boss can be a bully. A loved one can get sick or spiral out of control. The causes are endless.
While a crisis is never fun, it can be positive for your career. It can force you to slam the PAUSE button and take time to BREATHE, THINK and deal with what you think is IMPOSSIBLE.
‘As an accredited career coach, I regularly see people facing a crisis, sometimes of their own doing and sometimes not. While they might not believe it, there’s hope for positive change,’ says accredited career coach Dr. Kim Vella. ‘The key is to listen to your body, practice mindfulness and act.’
Kim doesn’t advise relying solely on reading self-help material or spending hours in your own head sifting through scenarios since you’ll rarely have all have the answers. External support can be invaluable.
‘External support could be your doctor or another health professional,’ says Kim. ‘Having an accredited coach who is down-to-earth and non-judgmental is important—someone who is broad-minded; someone who will listen and support you in developing options aligned with your core values.’
Kim doesn’t advise relying solely on friends and family to steer you out of a crisis because they’re not experts and can inadvertently give advice that might not be appropriate.
‘When you’re faced with a crisis it’s a big deal, not a small deal,’ says Kim. ‘It can be easy to get confused when those close to you, who want to help and see you happy, get too deeply involved.’
As an accredited career coach, Kim is educated and trained on how to support individuals to make their own decisions, in an informed way. She is Certified in Conversational Intelligence®, has a PhD (Sociology) from the Australian National University and has a Workplace and Business Coaching Diploma.
‘A great coach isn’t there to tell you the answers or what decisions you should make,’ says Kim. ‘They’re there to support so you ask yourself the right questions and make your own decisions with confidence.’
Kim knows first-hand how hard it can be when the going gets tough.
‘Life has taught me to expect the unexpected, starting with my mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer when she was only 57 years old. I put every other priority on hold while caring for her 24×7 until she passed away,’ says Kim. ‘It was the most precious thing I’ve ever done and the hardest at the same time.’
Soon after, Kim was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm, which she’s still living with thanks to significant lifestyle changes.
‘My final “wake up” call came when my car was hit by a driver who failed to give way,’ she says. ‘This happened just around the corner from my home. I thought I was going to die.’
These experiences were harder than Kim could have imagined but they taught her how important it is to focus on what really matters in life.
‘Crises can kickstart processes,’ says Kim, ‘but we don’t have to wait for a major event or a time when we lose control to think about quality of life and work-home balance. We can take charge and make changes now.’
‘Many professionals I coach, or who take my workshops, see losing control as a weakness, and they try to put energy they don’t have into fighting it. They inevitably crash and burn,’ warns Kim. ‘My career advice is to embrace vulnerability and be open to aligning yourself with who you really are, not who you think you should be. It takes courage, but life can turn for the better.’
Finally, Kim encourages career professionals to regularly examine whether they’re happy and flourishing. If not, she suggests acting to get motivated and shake things up.
‘I get a real buzz out of working with professionals and encouraging them to make changes to move from unhappy to happy, before being forced to do so,’ says Kim. ‘Together, we put plans in place and slowly life becomes clear and positive.’