We don’t need to tell you how tough it can be juggling a career with motherhood. And sometimes the juggle becomes just too hard. One mum shares the story of how she found her way back from rock bottom.
Over the past year, we’ve spoken to lots of mums who were feeling lost, defeated, hopeless and alone. We’ve also heard many heartwarming stories of recovery – of mums who clawed their way back from rock bottom to build a new life and career in which they could flourish and succeed.
One such mum is Isabel Knight – a former international fund manager, she now coaches successful women and helps them avoid (or come back from) the same bleakness she experienced as a struggling career mother. This is her story.
Many women feel lost once they have children
It’s not surprising to me now that so many women feel lost once they have had children. The time and commitment we need to devote to raising our children and nurturing, caring and supporting them all the time can be emotionally, physically and mentally draining.
And since there are none of the usual mechanisms in place for recognising the value of what mothers do on a daily basis – no one pays you a wage for being a mum, and there aren’t any performance reviews to acknowledge what a good job you are doing – it’s easy to feel useless, unappreciated, and often not good for anything.
Or at least I did. At my lowest point I shed many tears, frustrated at feeling washed up and worthless. I spent months unsure of who I really was, what I wanted out of life and where I could possibly go next. I felt like I had been thrown on the scrap heap of life.
This was made all the worse for knowing that in my past I had burned brightly. I had enjoyed a successful career as an investment manager. I had made an impact on the world and I had felt that I was contributing to society.
I reached rock bottom
Eventually I reached rock bottom. I’d felt sorry for myself for so long that the tears had run out. At this point realised that no one was going to rescue me – if I wanted to get myself out of my mental morass I had to do this myself.
I didn’t know what to do next, so I took the uncertain first step of meeting the husband of a friend who was a life coach. Feeling very small and insignificant, I remember asking him: “I feel so lost. Can you help me?”
In return, he asked me a simple question: “What makes you come alive?” I pondered this and realised that what I loved most was engaging conversations with people.
Over the course of our meeting I began to discover what coaching was about. Curious and inspired by my initial experience, I signed up to learn more at a free weekend offered by the Coaching Academy in London – a huge turning point for me, as I knew by the first break on the Saturday that I had found my calling. I had to become a coach.
Reflecting back on my journey to becoming a coach, I think that the pivotal moment that weekend was when I learned the power of having a vision and declaring your goal in life. While I had no idea how I was going to achieve my own vision, I knew that I had set myself a goal that inspired me. And three years later, I have achieved what I dreamed of that day.
How I learned to achieve my goals
Having an inspiring goal is great starting point, but it could have been overwhelming if I had not also learnt how to break a large goal down into smaller chunks.
My first goal was to qualify as a personal coach and while this could have seemed daunting – I had no idea how to coach anyone – I broke down what I needed to do and created a timetable over 6/7 months to do this.
Every week I allocated time as a priority to working on my goal. Breaking my large goal down into chunks and allocating specific times each week to do the training meant that I saw real progress on a monthly basis.
I now use this same principle with other goals that I have in my life. I work backwards from the end result that I want to achieve and work out what I need to do by when. Having a framework for actions and milestones along the way is a great way to track your progress.
I’m now a qualified coach
Since qualifying as a personal performance and small business coach with the Coaching Academy I have also become a trained coach for a programme called Best Year Yet™.
I now work with individuals, small business leaders and teams to create transformational change to help them become masters at producing results in their lives and business.
I am passionate about coaching and delivering the Best Year Yet™ programme as I know that it really works for people and makes a huge difference not only in their lives but in those around them. Certainly learning to be a coach and practising all that I now coach people on has transformed my life and helped me to create framework for generating the results that I want in my life.
The importance of vision
On my journey to having my own coaching business, the one thing that I have learned that has made the biggest difference to me is the power of vision. Having a clear vision of what I want to create and where I am heading has helped me to keep moving forward.
No matter where you are at the moment in life, if you want to move forward the key is to take the time to reflect on what it is that you want in the future. Take time to consider where you want to get to, and why you want to get there.
Time spent creating a vision for your life and writing it down is invaluable as it sets a marker in front of you that will literally pull you into your future. Remember to create a vision that inspires you – and make it big because this will help you to get round the obstacles that life will throw at you.
It’s not been easy – but I have made it
It would disingenuous for me to say that getting to where I am today has always been easy, but I am proof that having the courage to write down your vision, set goals and do the next thing on the path every day works.
If I can come back from from the bottom – feeling hopeless and lost – then you can too. And the key to achieving your goals is as simple as just starting. Just taking one small step forward. Trust me, I know!
What’s your experience?
As we mentioned at the beginning, Isabel’s story is sadly too common – and is one of the reasons we started Talented Ladies Club. We believe that for many women, having a meaningful career or business of some description is vital for good mental health. But often the only working model we know doesn’t fit our new responsibilities as a mum.
We believe very strongly that it IS possible to pursue your ambitions while being the mum you want to be – you just need to look at your opportunities differently, more creatively. And that’s what we hope we’re helping you to do, with inspiring stories from other mums, and practical advice and support.
If you have a story to tell, we’d love to hear it. Whether you’re still struggling to find your way, or you’ve successfully realised your ambitions on your terms, please do share your experiences with us – so we can either point you in the right direction for support, or share your story to help other women.
To get in touch with us to share your story or ask for help, simply send us a message via our contact page, and we’ll get in touch.
Isabel Knight is a strategic business coach and Best Year Yet™ coach. She’s written a free e-book in which she explains how you can produce the results you want in your life. You can learn more about her coaching on her website.