In your coaching experience, what are women looking for when they come to you for help in midlife?
Typically, women who seek out coaching are looking for what I call “more, better, different.” There’s usually nothing “wrong.” No horrible problem that needs to be fixed. Rather, it’s — and I’m dating myself here — the Peggy Lee syndrome: Is that all there is? These women are smart, successful, accomplished AND they want to do something more meaningful in their life.
That’s what’s so great about Next Act for Women — it gives women ideas and inspiration.
This change they seek could be a career change, a relocation, or a new relationship. Often, their children have left home and, for the first time in 18 years, these women get to think about themselves. For many of them, it’s not that easy. It’s like working a muscle you haven’t used in a very, very long time. That’s where coaching helps.
What have you found to be the most important things women can do to get unstuck in midlife?
The most important thing is to be open and willing to think differently about the beliefs you’ve been holding. Many times, women come to me wanting to make a change and then work their hardest to convince me that there’s nothing they can do differently. Nothing. In any area of their lives. I always say the same thing: “You called me.”
Another example of this is the “too busy” belief. Women will swear that they don’t have one… more… minute… in the day… to do anything else. Yet they’ve carved out an hour that wasn’t there before to meet with me. It’s the coach’s job to gently, but firmly, point out the way these old beliefs just aren’t working anymore.
Another great first step is for women to start talking out loud about their dreams. To that end, it’s important for them to find an ally — a coach or someone else — to keep them motivated and accountable.
What are the biggest barriers to women moving forward with their dreams and aspirations in midlife?
It’s these damn self-limiting beliefs. In many ways, we’ve lost the ability to dream. Often, one of the first exercises I do is to ask my client to tell me about a dream she has for herself. What I hear most often is “I don’t have any dreams” or “I’m too practical to dream.” It’s like negotiating with yourself. If you don’t allow yourself to dream, you’re already compromising what you think you can achieve and what you think you are entitled to. Keep filling in the details. Make that dream real. You can’t go after something if you don’t know what it is. Get intimate with your dreams.
The other big barrier is the fear of financial insecurity. That looks like the collapsed, self-limiting belief of I can either make money OR do work I love. There’s a belief that these two wants couldn’t possibly exist in one place. I’ve personally seen this disproved by so many of my clients. You CAN do work you love AND make money.
How does your coaching program help these women? What is your approach?
We challenge these beliefs by breaking them down one by one with the client. A big part of coaching is slowing down the conversation that’s already going on in our client’s head. Stop and listen to the stories you’re telling yourself and check out with a trusted champion if they’re true or not. Your coach is your champion, someone who will sit with you and help you listen to those voices in your head, but not get fooled by them.
I deeply believe that we all need a champion, that person — coach, friend, partner — who we trust to tell us the hard truths, yet who’s gentle enough to stay through the tough work of getting real with ourselves.
Our coaching program takes each woman through exercises of self-awareness and discovery to deepen the learning, and then co-creates a plan to move her forward into action. The coach stays in the relationship with her through the process to ensure that she stays motivated and moving forward.
Our work is tremendously gratifying. It’s humbling to be invited into people’s lives and to be a witness to their transformation. I feel truly blessed to be doing work I so deeply love and to have the privilege of meeting and working with so many amazing and interesting women.
Do you recommend any resources for women who want to start this process of self-discovery?
Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Group
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
In addition, I cannot recommend highly enough the Co-Active Leadership program offered through the Coaches Training Institute. It’s a significant commitment of both time and money but by far the most impactful program I have been a part of.
As a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and experienced group facilitator, Julie combines co-active coaching skills with unique problem-solving tools honed through 20 years in the creative services industry.
Julie is deeply invested in being a champion for anyone who wants more, better, different in their life and/or work. In addition to her private practice with individual clients, Julie works within businesses and nonprofit organizations to build successful and highly functioning leadership teams. Her unique background attracts — and welcomes — creative types and other sometimes seemingly “difficult” people.
Julie is a licensed Arbinger Coach, having completed The Choice in Coaching: Arbinger Mastery Training for Coaches. She earned certifications in Co-Active Leadership from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and in The Art of Innovation & Creativity from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She is a member of the International Coach Federation and the Chicago Coach Federation.