"10,000Km - my journey to change ... Km 0: the decision" by charlotte rydlund (guest blogger)

Change is the only thing that is constant. However change comes in different shapes and sizes. This is the first of a blog series to document my career transition from seven years in the corporate world to working independently as an executive coach. In terms of size and shape, this change is a big one, and one that I brought on myself. I chose to make this change.

Why did I choose this new path? It took time for me to get there, slowly turning un-conscious or sub-conscious actions into conscious ones. Even though coaching was not my full time job I had been coaching managers at different levels and in different corporate and organizational environments for almost 10 years. Over the last two years, it became increasingly clear to me that the passion I had for coaching people to help them succeed, was what I wanted to pursue full time. At that time I did not know how I was going to transform this passion into my new career path, nor did I feel the need to jump into it right then, but I began making choices that would lead in the right direction.

These choices included getting certified in executive coaching at Columbia University, it included increasing the amount of coaching I did internally at work and then finally to leave my full-time job as a Marketing Manager at Procter & Gamble. However, it also included other choices we made as a family – to leave Switzerland and set up an independent business on Vancouver Island, Canada. So, not only am I doing a complete switch in career path, but am also relocating to a new region that I have yet to discover.

This gives you a little background around what this blog series will be about. I’ll be documenting my transition, and share my experiences and tips that I have found helpful along the way. I’m extremely excited, a little scared but absolutely confident and committed to this change. I could not have gotten where I am without support of family, friends and also some meaningful coaching sessions. Yes, even coaches seek out coaching too!

Reflecting on the first six months

After almost seven years of strategic sourcing and marketing in a large corporate environment, it was initially quite a shock to the system. Monday mornings were the strangest days, where I would wake up thinking I needed to go to work, and then realize that I did not. I could not relax or sit still for the first three weeks. Our apartment became very clean and organized as I kept myself busy. I suppose I was trying to replace the constant stimulation from a working environment at home. Although I was being told ‘you need to relax, take some time to unwind’, I was not in the mindset to appreciate or listen to that kind of advice yet, albeit good advice!

A few tips…

Take time for yourself to readjust. This was probably the best advice I was given by family and friends  - to take that time for myself, but not directly after leaving the company. And it is true; I needed that first month to readjust in order to be mentally open for what was to come. I chose to attend a four day yoga retreat about a month after leaving the corporate world, and this is when my ‘new’ world began to re-center around a new routine that no longer included the traditional activity of ‘going to work’.

Create a new routine. This was the second most impactful and helpful aspect of my first weeks and months of transitioning out of a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 (or 7) job. For me this included getting up the same time every day, setting certain tasks with clear priorities to do each day and week that would contribute to setting up the business, spending quality time with family, and daily exercise. Having a schedule helped me stay focused on the new path I had chosen.

Stay in touch with your network. I have often found when people leave a job, change assignments, or move country that you can lose touch quickly. I enjoy being with people, and always learn something new from every conversation and interaction. It was (and is) important to me to stay in touch with people I have had a strong working relationship with, so it was natural for me to seek that out. That being said, it takes effort, but effort that is well worth it. Staying in touch with my network, with friends and family has been an essential part in supporting my transition.

Be present in the moment. There are many ways to be distracted, especially when readjusting to a new routine and life. It can feel like chaos, with so many different balls up in the air at once, and you need to find a way to juggle them all. I found it extremely helpful to focus on one thing at a time, and to truly be present while doing it; be it coaching, reading, meeting people, planning an international move, working on a business plan, cooking dinner or walking by the lake with our Labrador. Although I focused on being in the moment, and on enjoying the present, I kept very busy and did not take the time to reflect (until now…)

Take time to reflect. Days and weeks go by fast. It feels like yesterday I was still going to work, and with a blink, six months have already past. Writing this blog series is my own way to reflect on my transition and to share a few things I have realized and learned along the way.

Things are beginning to fall into place, one at a time…

Coming next month… my first few weeks in Canada, preparing to embark on a four month expedition across the Country as part of my transition (see www.canadive.org).