Career Plan isn’t working? Now What?

Expat partner

I grew up celebrating Burns night, a Scottish evening in January based around poet, Robbie Burns.

In his famous poem ‘The Mouse’, Burns famously complains that the

‘The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry and leave us only grief and pain for promised joy!’.

This poem has long touched me, as I am someone who plans and plans and plans.

Moreover when those plans do not create the results I have expect or been derailed by some external force-- I rally against it, the world and fate in general.  As a result I cannot tell you how often I have had sympathy with that mouse whom has its house and plans for a warm winter destroyed.

From a young girl I knew my passion was to work in sport, and so I studied it, and then landed my dream job aged 22.  I had an image in my head of being the CEO for a large sports team or charity and that was what I going to become and that was what success was.  My life left no room for another route or definition for success.  I had no plan B. I even knew I wanted to get married and become a mother, but in a general kind of way and I had no idea what the impact it would have on my plans.

Then I moved to South Africa. I was taken out of my training / career plan and I felt like my hard work had been for naught.  I had no other vision of what my life could look like so I tried to replicate my plans from the UK in South Africa.  It was no good, largely because I didn’t have the contacts and South African sport doesn’t really like professional European women working in it (sad but true).

It took me a couple of years, and a few children, to refocus and reenergise. Now as a professional coach I can use some of my experiences to help people go through similar transition (whether is professional change, motherhood or identity) and these are the tips I give them….

- Acknowledge & Take Responsibility for where you are.  Don’t look to others for the answers or to rescue you.

- Make time to Dream.
What is on your bucket list? Big and small? Maybe 10 years is too far away to focus on, so start with imagining what an ideal day this time next year would look like? How would you start your morning? What would you be spending time on? Eating? Your home look like? Relationships? Career?


- Don’t be scared to revert to a plan B,C or D
There isn’t one right way for you to live. Each of us goes through seasons, relating to our own situations (parenthood, age, culture, country), accept the decisions you have made and start re mapping your route. Then focus on the stuff you do have to look forward too, rather than the old life you left behind.

- What small change can you focus on to make that dream reality.
You may not be able to control work permits, or countries you currently live in, but there are always some small things you can do to help get you closer to your dream, there are seasons in life, so dont compare your situation with others, focus on your own dreams, and get creative with the opportunities that maybe out there.

I celebrated by having at least 1 glass of whisky to say thanks to Robbie for ‘The Mouse’ and an extra night of celebration 

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