I can make my life work for me and still make an impact.
“I can make my life work for me and still make an impact. I can achieve at work if I want to, or get another interesting job if I want to, or go travelling to Nepal if I want to. I am confident I can do something different and do what I want; it’s like a giant smile!”Abi Fitzgibbon, Interim Head of Social Change, IRNIB
Abi was working for a health care regulator without a line manager, reporting into the chief exec who had little time to devote to line management. In lieu of a line manager, Abi and her chief exec agreed she would work with a coach, and i-coach was the answer.
‘I wasn’t expecting what I ended up with, working with Caroline was a life-changing experience!’
Abi had worked successfully in a women’s rights charity for 10 years, something she was devoted and proud to do, after 10 years she wanted to do something else.
Abi took a 3-month career break to improve her French. On her return, she focused on doing something different workwise, taking a job at a health care regulator in a challenging position and at a difficult time for the organisation.
As for coaching, she felt she just needed someone to talk to, but hadn’t acknowledged that what she really needed was to look at her whole life, with some much bigger issues to resolve
‘I needed to understand myself a bit better, what had happened in my life and how it had impacted how I am at work. I looked at my life in the round, rather than looking at work in isolation.’
Encouraged by her work with Caroline, Abi shared the different facets of her life and then the time she spent on them; it was mainly work she invested in at the expense of other things such as relationships and being a keen runner.
‘I had to be about honest about myself, what I wanted to change about my whole life rather than picking bits off bit by bit.’
As Abi reflected on her family background, she discovered that she tended to over emphasise the need to be tough and strong, never showing uncertainty. But now, she is comfortable saying to her team ‘I don’t know’, and she feels it greatly enhances her leadership style.
‘I learned that I am not just my job and that’s Ok! I learned that life is not an endless race towards something. Now my approach to my career is different and so liberating! It doesn’t have to be an endless march through jobs and ever upwards. I am motivated by contributing to something I believe in.’
Post working with Caroline, Abi resigned from her regulatory job and decided to go travelling, spend some time thinking about what she wanted and with whom to spend her time. She reflected that she had lots of choices and in order to make progress, everything didn’t need to revolve around work.
‘I can make my life work for me and still make an impact. I can achieve at work if I want to, and get another interesting job if I want to, or I can go to Nepal. I am confident I can do something different and do what I want. It’s like a giant smile!’
People kept asking Abi ‘what’s next?’, although they noticed how happy she was.
Right now, she feels she doesn’t have all the answers but does have an unapologetic and clear sense of herself which she finds incredibly liberating, better at work and more relaxed. This is as a result of coaching. She’s founded a running club, stopped socialising in the week, has a new job and is truly focused on the things that mattered to her.
‘If you don’t hit the standard societal milestones such as children and getting married, people think you don’t change. But you do, and through coaching, I have changed and am opening a different chapter which has become one of these milestones.’
She focuses more on things that she wants to do now such as running and her work. And whilst she’s noticed some people find that difficult, she no longer has the time to do much socialising. ‘ Sometimes I feel guilty for it but am generally less apologetic. I realise I don’t need to serve other people’s needs!
This new self-awareness helped Abi to understand herself and has given her an embedded confidence that’s so helpful at work and in life. She’s very relaxed about life’s direction and am now very self-reflective as a result of coaching.
‘I have an interim job; I can lean into it completely because I know it will be only a certain period of time.’
Abi has prioritised her health, taking care of herself through exercise which enables her to work hard because she’s not so tired.
‘Coaching is not only for the super ambitious who want to be CEO. I am very grateful I have had this experience and I recommend coaching to everyone. The world would be a better place if people were much more self-aware and did what’s right for them, and that’s what coaching has given me. When I’m an old lady, what will have mattered most to me? That I went out for dinner 560 times or what has made a good life for me?’