Katy’s feeling of being profoundly stuck in midlife was her “wake-up call” to live her fullest, best life moving forward.
When did you start thinking about making a change in midlife?
Like so many women I know, and many I coach, I had a very demanding career and couldn’t figure out how to make it work with raising children and a husband who travels. I had been thinking about returning to work for a long time before I knew what I wanted to do. I knew that I didn’t want to return to management consulting because it was incompatible with being the main parent raising three kids. I wasn’t sure exactly what I did want to do.
I was feeling really stuck. I knew I could be contributing so much more to the world and that I was holding back. One catalyst to action was a series of health problems that took awhile to properly diagnose and resolve through surgery. In one flare-up, when I was quite ill and in a lot of pain, I made the explicit decision to get going on my life’s work and get into a serving vocation. I eventually figured out my medium would be coaching. You could say the Universe conspired on my behalf.
When I was quite ill and in a lot of pain, I made the decision to get going on my life’s work and get into a serving vocation.
What is your Next Act? Tell us about what you are doing…
I am a certified professional coach and offer business, career, and life coaching to executives and entrepreneurs. My specialty is high-performance individuals and teams. I am also a motivational speaker, offer workshops and retreats, mentor other coaches, and coach under-served women on how to apply for jobs and promote themselves.
The types of people I serve include: women who have off-ramped and are looking to return to work; people with a great idea for a product or service who want to work for themselves; people who are hitting an upper limit at work and are considering going out on their own; people entering the workforce and finding it challenging; career switchers of all ages; people who want to invest in their own personal and professional development and get to a higher level of performance.
Yes, you can make a living doing what you really want to do.
The most common types of issues I explore with my clients are: What do I really want to do? How could I make a living doing what I really want to do? How do I switch jobs to do what I really want to do? The answer is: Yes, you can make a living doing what you really want to do. I do, and I help other people do it every day.
A recent success story is a young woman who was very skilled in social media and digital marketing yet was not being asked to use these skills in her job. We partnered to help her pursue two parallel tracks: 1. Up-level her current job and 2. Apply for other jobs in her field. She became the first North American employee of a successful European start-up software firm and is now their Head of Marketing for the entire U.S.
Why did you choose this Next Act? What other options did you consider?
I ask every person I work with to tell me what they are absolutely brilliant at. While some people resist at first because as a society we are told to be humble about our gifts, every person knows inside what they are a native genius at.
I ask every person I work with to tell me what they are absolutely brilliant at.
I know that I am brilliant at intuitively reading people and figuring out how to work with them to guide them to get the mental and emotional clarity they need to live their life’s purpose. Every testimonial I get from clients is a variation on this theme. I have set up my coaching and consulting business to leverage my central gift and to delegate to others on issues not in my “sweet spot.”
In the early days of this Next Act, I did consider staying focused on business issues as an independent consultant. However, I realized that people are always calling me up to bounce problems off of me and to have a safe space to explore things for themselves. My gift is to create that safe space for them and to guide them with my intuition; it turns out there is a lot of need for that.
How hard was it to take the plunge? What challenges did you encounter?
It took some trial and error to figure out how to take the plunge. To me, helping people live their purpose and make their impact is not just my job; it is my mission and why I am here today.
I did have to go back and pursue professional education and certification in coaching. My biggest challenge was to figure out how to juggle starting a business, actively coaching many clients, as well as taking care of myself and of my family.
Helping people live their purpose and make their impact is not just my job; it is my mission and why I am here today.
What keeps me going is that I love my job and find it a joy every single day; that my clients openly share the difference I am making in their lives; that my husband and sons and extended family are really supportive with what I am doing. I also have a crystal clear vision of what I am building and have a plan to get there.
What advice do you have for women seeking to reinvent themselves in midlife?
Midlife is a time to be celebrated. We have lots of energy and vibrancy and now we have wisdom too. We can lean in to greater self-acceptance, surround ourselves with more supportive people and opportunities, and tune out some of the more negative ones.
It is tough to reinvent yourself. Make sure to prioritize your well-being and care for yourself. You won’t make it to the finish line if you burn out.
Midlife is a time to be celebrated. We have lots of energy and vibrancy and now we have wisdom too.
The number one thing you need is a good support system. I am not just talking about good friends or a soul mate. I mean a support system that is specifically designed to support your reinvention. In my case, I needed to have the right books around me, be in the right courses, connect in the right networks, know people who were several steps ahead of me in their reinvention, and create my own mentors everywhere I went.
What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing your path?
If you are interested in being an entrepreneur, figure it out before you quit your day job.
Talk to a lot of people who are doing what you do. Ask them how long the investment phase is before you start earning income. Ask them about the best and worst aspects of their jobs. Ask them what they would tell their younger selves. I believe we all want to work for ourselves and we all can.
It is important to have the makings of a plan, not all the specifics, but the core vision and resource plan must be attended to before you make the leap.
If you are interested in coaching, coach someone as soon as you finish reading this post. Do not wait to get certified. Pick someone and offer them coaching. Do it and get feedback. Make sure that you love people and can believe in them even when they doubt themselves. Sometimes I think I am most effective because I can easily envision my clients being successful in the dreams they share with me and I can see the practical steps they need to get there. If you have these traits, start coaching today and you will never regret it.
If you are interested in coaching, coach someone as soon as you finish reading this post.
What resources do you recommend in your field?
What about resources focused on women reinventing themselves in midlife?
Here are some of my sources of inspiration:
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) by Joseph Campbell
The Millionaire Messenger: Making a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice by Brendon Burchard
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
What’s next for you? Do you think you have another Next Act in your future?
Yes, my Next Act is my online course offerings. In order to extend my reach beyond the people I can personally coach, I am creating online coaching programs. Come on over to my website and opt in to follow me so you will be in the know when we launch.
Contact Katy Hansell at www.katyhansell.com
Watch her Ted Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUkHj5t7Ud4