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  • ninawohlleben

The joy of the unconventional path

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Until recently, my life was all about conventional. A-levels, university, into the corporate world and up the ladder step by step. By my mid-thirties I reached sales directors’ level within the automotive industry and of course that has been a great path. I’m more than grateful for all the opportunities and the development journey I got to experience over the last years.

Just at some point, I started having that increasingly niggling feeling inside, that I wanted to meander and explore a new path, try out new things, have more self-determination, more time for life and the things I love.

From working with my coach and a university course I took in positive psychology, it started dawning on me that I wanted to support people in creating the life and career that is really true to them - fulfilling, healthy, joyful, sustainable.

I’m convinced it’s time for us to turn a new page on how we live and work. The modus operandi we’ve created so far has turned out to be detrimental in many parts - to ourselves, our fellow humans and the planet likewise. Clearly, it’s time for us to explore new (work) ways. It’s often hard for us to stop the hamster wheel, gain that new perspective and mindset, dare to leave our comfort zone, make unconventional decisions, define our own meaning of success and follow it step by step towards personal life satisfaction. Particularly for leaders and entrepreneurs it can be daunting to carry the responsibility for employees, the task to build great businesses that are future-proof and sustainable, creating a positive impact in the world. Coaching can be a strong support and enabler for decision-makers throughout this process and to my mind will become increasingly relevant as we continuously pivot towards new approaches in the future.

Over the course of 2 years I took a systemic coaching certification training and started working with clients on the side. I realised that I love this work, it’s intensely meaningful to me. Those moments when clients have a break-through, get new perspective, take responsibility and set out to create what they’re meant to - it’s priceless.

Unsurprisingly though, there’s not much time to build a coaching business next to a full-time corporate senior role (you may have guessed). I began to feel overwhelmed, unfocused and frustrated. I realised it was time for a break to gain clarity and so I took a sabbatical in early 2021. Road-tripping through Europe and living in a van for six months during this time, was an incredible experience in itself and it brought the clarity I was searching for. By the end of summer I knew it was time to face my fears, get out of my comfort zone, say good-bye to corporate seniority in order to free up space in my life and take the steps towards building my own business.

I really like the company I work for and was not looking to leave all together. So when the opportunity arose for a part-time management role within the people & culture department - an area that I'm hugely interested in - the matter was clear.

The new assignment enables me to work part-time and in an area that follows the same motivation as my work as a coach - to empower people on their growth path. Next to my corporate job, I now have more time for my coaching clients and the next steps towards scaling my business.

Is it always easy? Certainly not. When my ego gallops off on a tangent, missing the corporate status of my prior role and I’m seen being a newbie at what I do. Or on the days I find entrepreneurship hard because there’s no one telling me what the right next steps are or if I’m doing well.

Is it worth it? F*** yes :) I love having various areas of work, more self-determination, more flexibility, being able to follow my interests and make them part of my work.

Would I say multiple areas of work is the right way for everyone? Probably not. But letting go of the countless “should and should-not’s” and building the courage to make some well-calculated changes (even the seemingly small ones) that will enable us to create the life that we really want to live - that’s a hugely gratifying adventure, you may want to look into it :)

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